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Pediatric Ear Nose & Throat

Pediatric ENT Program staff include (l-r): Erik Waldman, MD; Kimbra Dombroski, RN; and audiologists Heather Haversat, Bernadette Palmese, Lauren Fagan and Carol Powell. 

Pediatric ENT Program grows with new specialists, locations

In response to increasing demand for specialized children’s ear, nose and throat care, Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital welcomed two new pediatric otolaryngologists to its Pediatric ENT Program this past year and is adding treatment locations.

Erik Waldman, MD, chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology, and pediatric otolaryngologist Cecilia Helwig, MD, are now part of the program team, which also includes audiologists, a nurse coordinator and a speech-language pathologist. They treat newborns to 21-year-olds with a variety of conditions, including infections, traumatic injuries and structural issues requiring surgery. 

Dr. Waldman noted that pediatric otolaryngologists have one to two years of extra training and work only with pediatric anesthesiologists in the operating room. They know that even common ENT conditions can affect children differently and provide the most effective, age-appropriate treatments. 

YNHCH worked with the Yale Department of Surgery to recruit Dr. Waldman and Dr. Helwig, expanding access for pediatricians and parents to highly trained specialists. The program is connected with other YNHCH pediatric specialties, allowing pediatric ENT physicians to treat the “whole child.”

“The goal was to develop a program that would provide the same kind of collaborative care that was being provided to adult ENT patients,” Dr. Waldman said.

In addition to treating common ENT conditions, the program offers advanced procedures, such as in-office nasal endoscopy to evaluate the upper airway; bilateral cochlear implants in young children who are deaf or profoundly hard of hearing; and less-painful, partial tonsillectomies that allow children to eat solid foods within days and return to school almost immediately. The pediatric ENTs also participate in clinical trials and telemedicine initiatives.

“We are in the forefront of advancing medicines and surgical techniques to improve children’s health and quality of life,” Dr. Waldman said. 

Children as young as newborns may be diagnosed with hearing loss by one of the program’s four, full-time audiologists. Audiologists also perform evaluations to help determine specific causes of hearing loss, and collaborate with other care team members on treatment options to improve hearing and communication. 

Nurse Coordinator Kimbra Dombroski, RN, is the liaison between families and the care team. She educates patients and families, plans for tests and procedures and supports follow-up care. She can also refer patients to other YNHCH pediatric programs such as the Aerodigestive and Feeding Disorder Program, Speech and Swallow Center and Craniofacial Program. 

“Supporting patients and families through their post-op period is one of my favorite roles,” Dombroski said. “Many families just need that follow-up phone call offering support and reassurance to ease them through recovery time. We work closely with our patients and their families to ensure they get the comprehensive care they need.” 

Dr. Waldman and Dr. Helwig see Pediatric ENT Program patients in New Haven, at the Pediatric Specialty Centers at YNHCH and at One Long Wharf; Trumbull, at the Park Avenue Medical Center; and Norwalk, at Belden Square. Pediatric ENT appointments will soon be offered at Yale New Haven’s Old Saybrook Medical Center. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 203-785-4081.