J. “Brannon” Alberty, M.D., medical director of pediatric gastroenterology at ACNW, leads the team that includes fellow pediatric gastroenterologist Abdel Hai Hammo, M.D. and Kelsey Hindman, D.N.P., A.P.R.N., C.P.N.P.-P.C. – all of whom see patients in the clinic – and Karla Moran, R.N., the primary contact person for patients.

The team, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities at ACNW, saves patients from driving to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for routine procedures, advanced consults or follow-up care.

“With 100,000 kids in this area, the demand [for gastrointestinal services] is huge,” Alberty said.

Since joining the team to offer full-time gastrointestinal services to the region's children, Alberty has focused on getting to know the patients and their histories. The wait times for patients have dropped significantly, and the goal is to continue reducing wait times while prioritizing excellent care.

Belly Pain to Liver Biopsies

Gastroenterologists specialize in problems of the stomach, esophagus, intestines, liver, colon and pancreas. In kids, these problems often translate into symptoms like belly pain, vomiting or constipation. In babies too young to describe their pain, it can look like difficulty gaining weight or problems with feeding. Our pediatric team uses techniques suited to their young patients to help diagnose whether the issue is caused by a common stomach virus or conditions like Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome.

Compassionate care is a hallmark of Arkansas Children’s. Whether it’s your first visit to ACNW or a follow-up appointment, your care team will take the time to understand your concerns. During your child’s first visit, expect to talk about symptoms, eating habits and questions about poop are common. Height and weight will also be measured as starting points for comparison with later visits.

Next, samples of urine, stool or blood may be needed. We might also take x-rays, a CT scan or an MRI.

“Sometimes, to make a diagnosis, there’s information that you can only get by looking directly at the intestine,” Alberty said.

If pictures of the intestines are needed, a procedure called an endoscopy would be recommended. A tiny camera at the end of a thin tube is used to help our team see the upper and lower intestines. The expansion of the full-time ACNW team means many patients no longer have to drive to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for endoscopies or liver biopsies.

A Gastrointestinal Resource for Northwest Arkansas

The full-time gastroenterology team at ACNW supports regional pediatricians. Alberty said he’d rather get a call from a pediatrician needing a consultation or making a referral than get a call about the same patient when they’re in the ER.

“When pediatricians have a really sick patient, we want them to feel comfortable calling us. We’re here to be a resource for them.”

The population of northwest Arkansas is projected to keep growing, and ACNW plans to keep expanding to meet the needs of children in the area. Plans to expand the team of pediatric gastroenterology specialists and the clinic space are both underway, so we can make Arkansas the safest and healthiest place to be a child.


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