A pediatric neurologist from Cook Children’s is now seeing patients in Lubbock thanks to a hospital partnership that brings specialized care closer to home for residents of West Texas and eastern New Mexico.
Jennifer Pitts, M.D. joined the Jane and John Justin Neurosciences Center at Cook Children’s in December and opened her full-time practice at Covenant Children’s facilities shortly thereafter. She provides care for every type of general neurology need in babies, children and adolescents. Those needs include treatment for seizures, stroke, medical aspects of head injuries and brain tumors, cerebral palsy, nerve-muscle disorders, movement disorders, neurofibromatosis and headaches.
The arrival of Dr. Pitts in Lubbock is the latest expansion of a collaboration between Cook Children’s Health Care System and Covenant Children’s that dates back to 2018. That partnership began with cardiothoracic teams from Cook Children’s who travel from Fort Worth to Lubbock four times a year to perform surgery at Covenant Children’s. The partnership grew when two neurologists from Cook Children’s began scheduling visits to Covenant Children’s for specialty areas of epilepsy and movement disorders. And now, the collaboration has grown again to include full-time neurology.
What makes this news such a welcome development? Pediatricians in the Lubbock region can refer patients to Dr. Pitts’ local clinic; she is also available to assist with in-patient consultations at Covenant Children’s. The arrangement is designed to be sustainable, convenient and accessible for families on the South Plains who would otherwise have to go long distances to reach the nationally recognized neurosciences expertise that Cook Children’s offers.
“The issue is the demand and need in West Texas in general,” said M. Scott Perry, M.D., head of Neurosciences at Cook Children’s. “There are plenty of people who need pediatric neurology specialty services and pediatric neurology subspecialty services, and many of them end up coming to Fort Worth. I hope it provides the ability for kids who need care in the hospital to get it locally without having to be transferred as often.”
Rolla Shbarou, M.D. a Cook Children’s pediatric neurologist, began seeing patients in Amarillo early last year and will serve as another partner to Dr. Pitts for covering patient care. Opening the Lubbock satellite office for Cook Children’s Neurology in late 2021 was a long process of working out logistics. “We’ve been talking about this for years,” Dr. Perry said.
Covenant Children’s Chief Medical Officer David Gray expressed excitement about the new arrangement. “Dr. Pitts is the latest example of our collaboration with Cook Children’s in bringing broader specialty care to Lubbock so that more and more patients can receive excellent care close to home,” Dr. Gray said.
Dr. Pitts expects to stay busy. She sees a benefit for the West Texas families who can now avoid long drives and missed days of work when their child needs a neurology appointment or in-patient care.
Ask Dr. Pitts about her background, and you’ll find out her passions: animals, equine therapy and most of all, helping kids. She was born in rural Shattuck, Okla., on the far west side of the state, and raised in small towns in South Carolina and Florida. Surrounded as a child by pet dogs, cats, fish and a horse, she wanted to become a veterinarian or engineer when she grew up. Her love for horses led her to give therapeutic riding lessons to children with autism, cerebral palsy and other health challenges. During those therapeutic riding sessions, she was especially aware of the children who were struggling to get their medical needs diagnosed and find specialty care.
Dr. Pitts strengthened her interest in medicine in college when she worked on research in pediatrics in the physiologic psychology department studying topics like executive function.
Dr. Pitts went on to earn her medical degree at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. She was torn between practicing pediatrics and geriatrics, but children won her heart because of their resilient attitude. She completed her combined pediatric and neurology residency at Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., in 2013.
Neurologists treat the nervous system — spinal cord, nerves and muscles — in addition to the brain, Dr. Pitts pointed out. In her Lubbock office she expects to encounter general neurology issues, “Anything from cognitive concerns, developmental delay, seizures and headaches.”
A few other things to know about Dr. Pitts … she’s a good listener, a hiking enthusiast, and goes to the park whenever possible with her Bernese mountain dog, Bailey. Her move from the Houston suburbs to Lubbock brings her closer to her roots. She wants the parents of her patients to know they have a team here to help them take care of their children’s needs.
Dr. Pitts works from 4102 24th Street, Suite 201, in Lubbock. To make an appointment, call
Pediatric neurology deals with diseases, disorders and injuries that can affect a child’s brain, spinal cord, and all associated blood vessels, muscles and nerves. If your child has a problem involving the nervous system, Cook Children’s pediatric neurologists have the special training and experience necessary to diagnose and treat your child.