Willows Pediatrics Blog - We Know Kids

We Know Kids

The Willows Pediatrics Blog

Trumenba (Meningitis B) Vaccine Now Available

Bacterial meningitis (infection around the spinal cord and brain) or sepsis (infection in the blood stream) is an extremely serious illness. The bacterium Neisseria meningitis (meningococous) is a cause of meningitis or septic shock in adolescents and young adults.

Even with appropriate antibiotics and intensive care, between 10 and 15 percent of people who develop meningococcal disease die, and another 10 to 20 percent suffer complications, such as brain damage or limb loss. Read More

5 Week Workshop: Parenting an Anxious Child

(for Parents of Children in Grades 5-8)

Led by Psychologist, Katie Liebenberg, Psy.D &
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Susan Raphael, LMFT

Would you like to reduce the stress that comes with parenting an anxious child?
Parenting even the most well adjusted child can be frustrating and exhausting, but parenting a child with anxiety presents a different set of challenges. The good news is that research shows that there are parenting strategies that can make it easier to help your child manage anxiety.

Willows is excited to announce a 5-week workshop that will give parents the tools to begin the school year with a fresh approach. You will have the opportunity to learn skills that will help you be proactive, rather than reactive with your anxious child.

The workshop will help parents:

  • Understand anxiety and its biology
  • Feel more confident in developing rules and setting limits
  • Address school issues
  • Provide an environment that feels safe for your child

Workshop Agenda:

Session 1: Understanding anxiety
Session 2: Addressing parental conflicts with anxious children (i.e. enabling, rule setting)
Session 3: Strategies for working with anxious children
Session 4: School issues and strategies
Session 5: Skill practice and wrap up

So if you want to feel prepared to help your child rather than feeling overwhelmed, and reduce the stress in your family, please consider joining us for this workshop.

Workshop will consist of five 90 minute sessions for parents to be held here at Willows. It is the hope that there will be workshops for the children of the participating parents scheduled upon completion of the 5 parent sessions.

Workshop schedule – Thursday’s 12 to 1:30 pm in October: 10/1, 10/8, 10/15, 10/22, 10/29.

If you are interested in participating please contact your MD/PA we can make the referral for you.

You will then be called by the workshop leaders to make sure that the workshop will be appropriate for you to participate in and will allow you to ask any questions that you might have.

Cost of the workshop will be $200.00 for the total package payable when you are enrolled

Changes Happening at Willows Pediatrics

June 9, 2015

To Our Families,

We are writing to share with you two changes that are about to happen in our practice. Just as transitions are an inevitable part of family life, the family that is Willows Pediatrics is soon to experience a transition of our own… Dr. Bartels is retiring as of July 31, 2015 and we will have a new physician joining our practice as of July 1, 2015.

A “Good Bye” to Dr. Isis Bartels…..

As some of you already know, Dr. Bartels will be closing this chapter of her life. After practicing more than 25 years with us, it is a bittersweet moment. While she is moving on, Dr. Bartels wants to express how meaningful and important her work at Willows has been to her, and that it has been a privilege to be included in the life of your children.

and a “Hello” to Dr. Rachel Sheiman…..

We are thrilled to welcome Rachel Sheiman, MD as a full time pediatrician. Having practiced pediatrics for 16 years, Dr. Sheiman brings a wealth of experience to Willows.

Dr. Sheiman received her BA from Cornell University and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the Loyola School of Medicine in Chicago. She completed her residency in pediatrics at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC/UCONN). She is Board Certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

As a graduate of Trumbull High School, and a long time resident of Fairfield with two young children in local schools, Dr. Sheiman has a strong connection to the Fairfield County community. She is thrilled to be part of the Willows team, and looks forward to continuing our tradition of excellence in pediatric care for infants, children and adolescents.

Please join us in saying a warm farewell to Dr. Bartels and welcoming Dr. Sheiman. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask your physician, PA or nurse.

Yours truly,

Peter Czuczka, MD
Laura Marks, MD
Jeffrey Owens, MD
Jonathan Sollinger, MD
Janet Woodward, MD

Building an Early Literacy Toolkit

A favorite memory for many parents is reading aloud to their young children. But more than just a family routine or ritual, early and shared reading promotes early brain development and builds emotional bonds between parents and children during the critical early childhood years. Reading out loud, right from birth, is the foundation of your child’s literacy and a springboard for their future reading skills.

The Academy of Pediatrics has developed an Early Literacy Toolkit with ideas and suggestions that parents can adopt to support their child’s literacy. There is a toolkit for each critical age range in early childhood, infants up to 11 months, one year olds and two year olds. The advice in each toolkit takes advantage of the developmental stages at each age, so that parents can not only have fun, but do the most age appropriate activities to prepare their child for a life long love of reading and learning. Read More

New Doctor Joining Willows Pediatrics


July 2015

We are excited to announce that Rachel Sheiman, MD will be joining our practice as a full time physician, starting July 1,  2015.  Rachel brings to our families over 15 years of experience taking care of infants, children and adolescents.   She has been part of the Fairfield County community all of her life.  We are pleased to be making appointments for her now.  Please join us in welcoming her; Dr. Sheiman will be a wonderful addition to our practice.

Dr. Czuczka, Dr. Marks & Dr. Sollinger earn 2015 “Top Docs” from Connecticut Magazine

May 7, 2015

Willows Top Doctors 2015We are proud and excited to announce that three of our physicians have been named Top Doctors in the April 2015 issue of Connecticut Magazine. This is Dr. Czuczka’s ninth year, and Dr. Marks’ and Dr. Sollinger’s first year as a Connecticut Magazine “Top Doc”.

The annual “Top Docs” issue of Connecticut Magazine names specialists in a variety of medical fields who have been selected based on the results of a survey from 834 Connecticut physicians in 31 specialties. 15000 questionnaires were sent throughout the state asking doctors to, “recommend a doctor (other than themselves) to whom they would send a loved one for expert medical care.”

While we congratulate Dr. Czuczka, Dr. Marks and Dr. Sollinger for being recognized by their peers, Willows Pediatrics takes pride in knowing all of our physicians – and our entire medical team – are at the top of their field providing compassionate, expert pediatric care to hundreds of local families.

Caring for Kids: Doctors Talk

LauraMarksThe Westport Library recently hosted a series of talks given by local pediatricians on topics of interest to parents in the community.

On April 2nd Dr. Laura Marks gave a presentation about childcare options. Speaking from her own experience as a pediatrician and mother, Dr. Marks discussed what to look for when considering various child care options, including hiring a nanny and enrolling a child in home or center based day care.

Topics included safety concerns, cost considerations, and evaluating if the child care options parents’ are considering are supportive of a their child’s age and stage of development. Parents had the opportunity to ask questions and a lively discussion followed – ensuring that your child has the best possible environment when you are not there is vital to parents’ peace of mind and their infant or young child’s well being.

Measles and Your Family

The physicians and physician assistants at Willows Pediatrics are closely following the recent cases of measles in the United States. The measles outbreak that is linked to Disneyland has now been reported in 14 states. To date no cases have been reported in Connecticut for 2015.

The evidence is clear that the best way to protect children from measles is to follow the recommended immunization schedule. The measles outbreak is a stark reminder of this. All of us at Willows Pediatrics are strong advocates for keeping children healthy by having all families follow the immunization schedule approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics for their infants, children and adolescents.

As the measles outbreak linked to Disneyland continues to spread, pediatricians are deeply concerned about the children who have been infected, and those who are at risk because they have not been vaccinated. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly urges parents to make sure their children have received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. While it is best to get the vaccine as soon as your child reaches the recommended age, it is never too late to get your children caught up so they can receive the vaccine and be fully protected.

We know from many repeated studies that the MMR vaccine is safe and effective. It is in fact one of the most effective vaccines we have. And as the measles outbreak has shown, this virus is incredibly contagious. If you have not been immunized against measles and come near an infected person, you have a 90 percent chance of getting measles.

When measles was more common in the U.S., hundreds of children died from this virus every year. The fact that this disease has resurfaced widely for the first time in more than a decade has prompted pediatricians to reinforce the fact that vaccines work. Delaying your child’s vaccines, or refusing the vaccine, leaves your child vulnerable to this invisible threat. And puts other children in the community at risk. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak to us – we are here to help.

How to Protect Your Child During a Measles Outbreak:

Dr. Sollinger Speaks about Vaccines and Children

Feb 5, 2015 – From “Dan Woog’s 06880” blog


Dr. Jonathan Sollinger is a beloved Westport pediatrician — the 21st-century version of Dr. Beasley, Lebhar or Shiller.

He’s got a firm opinion on the current national measles vaccine “debate.” Fortunately, it’s in line with what nearly all Westporters believe.

“The vast majority of Westport parents fully protect their kids with the CDC- recommended panel of immunizations,” Dr. Sollinger says.

“Quite simply, vaccines work,” he adds. “They save lives. They protect the young, the old, the immuno-compromised (like those on chemo) and the immuno-competent. When you immunize your children, you are also protecting those who cannot be vaccinated due to age, illness or access.”

Fortunately, Westport is far away from Disneyland, which has become ground zero for the reappearance of this supposedly eradicated disease.

Unfortunately, it is not far from New York and Pennsylvania, where measles cases have been reported.

Fortunately, Fairfield County is home to some very educated people. They understand the science behind immunization theory, and do not believe long-debunked myths about the link between immunizations and autism. (Or the political panderings of folks like Chris Christie and “Dr.” Senator Rand Paul.)

Yet Marin County is also home to very educated people, who think they have the right to impose their “wellness” theories on others. That’s just “mindful stupidity,” as Jon Stewart brilliantly explains.

Dr. Sollinger says he has had many discussions recently with parents who are concerned about real or potential Disneyland contacts.

Drs. Beasley, Lebhar and Shiller — and many other pediatricians, in the decades since — vaccinated thousands of Westport children. There have been no measles cases here in years.

That is not a coincidence. It is, as Dr. Sollinger knows, just good, common sense.

Seasonal Influenza: Flu Basics

Girl blowing her nose. Space for text. Horizontal

We are now entering “Flu” season, and want to remind parents to be aware of how it is spread and ways to help prevent influenza infections. Hopefully your infant six months of age and over, as well as your children and adolescents have been vaccinated. If not, you can still call and schedule an appointment to receive the flu vaccine. Please remember children under age 9 years receiving the flu vaccine for the first time should have a booster dose one month after the first dose.

Person-to-Person Spread

People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread by droplets formed when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

To avoid this, people should try stay away from sick people, especially those with fever, and stay home if sick. It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water.

According the CDC, most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have minimal symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

Misconceptions about Flu Vaccines

Can a flu shot give you the flu?

No, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine). The most common side effects from the influenza shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur.

In randomized, blinded studies, where some people get inactivated flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.

Based on these flu facts, it is easy to see that receiving the flu vaccine is one of the most important, safest ways to prevent influenza infections. Even if the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, individuals who are vaccinated and still catch the flu are more likely to have less severe symptoms.

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