By Vincent Ball, for the Brantford Expositor

Holding up the heavens may be a bit too much for Atlas Nagy right now.

But make no mistake about it, the little guy who turns two in February is living up to his name.

“He’s always happy even a day after heart surgery,” his mother Krystal said. “He’s laying there, looking around and smiling at the nurses.

“He’s had so much happen to him in such a short time but he just keeps on smiling.”

The son of Robb and Krystal, Atlas was born with severe heart problems resulting in extended stays in hospital.

“I would say that he has spent about 20 weeks in hospital since being born and that’s not counting outpatient visits,” Krystal said. “But we knew he was going to be a strong little warrior and we gave him a strong name.”

Named after the mythological Greek god of strength and endurance, Atlas, with the help of the Pediatric Acute Referral Service (PARS) Clinic at Brantford General Hospital, family and the community, is getting stronger. Strong enough to help cut the ribbon to celebrate completion of the clinic’s redevelopment project on Nov. 28.

Originally opened in 2017, the redevelopment added private examination rooms, equipment calibrated for pediatric patients, accessible washrooms and a family friendly waiting area.

The clinic treats children who are only hours old up to patients under 18 that have been referred by community physicians, midwives and nurse practitioners. The more than 40 healthcare professionals including 20 nurses and 10 pediatricians treat patients suffering from a range of conditions including asthma and respiratory syncytial virus.

“We wanted to provide rapid follow up from either visits to the emergency room or admissions to the pediatric ward,” Dr. Jessica Dooley, Chief and Medical Director, Department of Pediatrics at the Brant Community Healthcare System, said. “We felt we would be able to help keep kids out of the emergency department or get them home sooner or ensure they weren’t re-admitted to hospital, if we could see them within 24 to 48 hours.

“We only see those kids that need rapid follow up because they are either quite unwell or need to be seen urgently.”

The Brant Community Healthcare System operates Brantford General Hospital and the Willett Urgent Care Centre in Paris.

In 2017, there were 692 visits to the PARS clinic.

But as word spread visits increased dramatically. In 2022, there were 3,397 visits.

“It’s a needed service and people are using it,” Amy Griesser, clinical manager, family birthing centre, said. “Our community is growing rapidly.

“Brantford and Brant County is one of the fastest growing areas in southwestern Ontario.”

The clinic has helped attract more pediatricians to Brantford and Brant.

“We’ve increased our pediatric coverage in Brantford,” Dooley said. “We have a wonderful group of dynamic, experienced pediatricians who are serving hospital patients but those in the community as well through their outpatient practice.”

Much of the credit for the success of the clinic belongs to Dr. Sarangan Uthayalingam who arranged to have McMaster University students such as Dooley come to BGH to complete their residency.

“I came to Brantford as a resident and I really enjoyed it,” Dooley said. “I loved the community and stayed on as a staff member once my residency was done.

Griesser said the clinic has also eased the pressure on the hospital’s emergency department and provides the continuity of care to young, vulnerable patients.

The clinic’s redevelopment was made possible by donations to the Brant Community Healthcare System Foundation including $575,000 from Sunrise Rotary Club of Brantford. The clinic’s waiting room will be named after the club.

“The care provided at this clinic is exceptional but it’s more than that,” Nagy said. “I’ve had to become an advocate to get the care Atlas needs and sometimes it has been really difficult.

“But the staff at the clinic respect parents like us and they listen to what we have to say. It’s great to be able to get this care close to home.”