LAFAYETTE, La. (IND) – The Kids Speciality Center at Women’s & Children’s Hospital welcomes home several returning pediatric specialists later this summer including Acadiana’s only board-certified pediatric orthopedic surgeons and pediatric neurologist.

Dr. Gabriel Dersam, currently working in pediatric orthopedic surgery with the Tulane University Medical Group, is set to return to the Kids Specialty Center where he practiced from 2008 until 2014 before accepting a position at Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria.

“We had lived in Lafayette for over eight years and this is what we consider home,” says Dersam. “I am glad to return to a practice that we worked so hard to develop as a premier child-centered orthopedic clinic, as a service to the community, and to continue meeting the needs of the families in Acadiana.”

Dersam earned his medical degree from the University of Arizona College of Medicine before completing a residency at the University of Minnesota and a fellowship in pediatric orthopedic surgery at Gillett Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 2008, he joined the Kids Specialty Center team of physicians, who specialize in various pediatric services including general surgery, endocrinology, hematology, oncology, neurology, neurosurgery and pulmonology and sleep medicine.

“As a surgeon I am always looking for ways to increase my skills and education to better serve my patients and their families,” says Dersam. “I am grateful for my time at the other hospital and the surgical education and experiences I was able to obtain. Now I can bring those back to Lafayette and continue providing a high level of care that my patients and their families have come to expect from the Kids Specialty Center.”

Dr. James Dunlap
Dr. James Dunlap
Joining Dersam in pediatric orthopedic surgery at the Kids Specialty Center is Dr. James Dunlap, who is also working with the Tulane University Medical Group. Dunlap is board certified in orthopedic surgery and is fellowship-trained in pediatric orthopedic surgery. He specializes in the full spectrum of pediatric orthopedics with special interests in spinal deformity, trauma and lower extremity deformities.

Dunlap earned his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1989 and then completed a research fellowship at Tulane in 1992 followed by his residency in orthopedic surgery at Tulane. Dunlap has been in private practice in Spokane, Wash., since 1997.

With Dersam and Dunlap on staff, Women’s and Children’s will have the only two board-certified pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the entire Acadiana area, with the next closest being in Baton Rouge, New Orleans or Houston.

The Kids Speciality Center will also welcome Dr. Kenneth Habetz, who graduated from the LSU School of Medicine at Shreveport in 2010 and specializes in pediatrics and neurology.

Habetz has been working in pediatrics and neurology at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for the past six years and says one of the reasons why he is continuing his career in the Lafayette area is to be closer to his parents and extended family.

Habetz says the other reason for his return to Acadiana is opportunity, as he will be the only child neurologist in the city.

“There are no child neurologists that I am aware of in the area and there is a need for that service,” he says. “I cannot imagine a better opportunity than filling a need in the community and being near family.”

Habetz says his special area of interest and training is in epilepsy.

“I hope to help from the outpatient perspective by consulting for local providers and local patients first and foremost,” says Habetz. “This is a specialty that is not numerically well represented in our state or part of the country, which often results in long wait times and a good deal of travel for families. Having a local provider will help alleviate that issue.”

Habetz says he believes that, in the hospital setting, having a neurologist available will allow for local children coming in through the ER or having an emergency at home to be admitted and treated in local hospitals without the need for transportation to other facilities. He adds that EEG capabilities, which is a monitoring method to record electrical activity of the brain, and real time interpretations should allow for more timely therapies and diagnostic evaluation.

All three additions to the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Kids Specialty are set to be in place by the end of the summer.

“The Kids Specialty Center is staffed with an amazing group of physicians, surgeons, physician assistants, medical assistants and other support staff,” says Dersam. “Our focus is the pediatric patient and their family members. I have always enjoyed working with people who share my belief that children are not little adults, but instead are a very special patient population that needs specific attention from staff who understand their unique needs.”

[This article was originally published in the July 2016 edition of The Independent and on]