Tag Archives: Willows Pediatrics

Remembering Dr. Jack Shiller

Dr. Jack Shiller — pediatrician to generations of Westport Baby Boom boys and girls, co-founder of Willows Pediatrics, and founder of the Westport Weston Health District — died Wednesday in his home in Redding. He was 92 years old.

The Brooklyn native graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1947, and Columbia Medical School in 1952.

Dr. Shiller received the Connecticut Veterans Wartime Service Medal for his service in the Air Force as captain of the 47th tactical hospital stationed at Sculthorpe, England.

After training at Bellevue Hospital and The Babies Hospital in New York City, he was board certified in pediatrics.

He established his own private practice in Westport before forming Willows Pediatric Group in 1973 with Dr. Albert Beasley. Dr. Beasley died this past June.

Dr. Jack Shiller

He was active on the staff of Norwalk Hospital, where he started the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and later served as interim chief of pediatrics. He continued academic ties to Babies Hospital as teaching staff.

He was an advocate of equal representation, disease prevention, and education during and after helping to form the Westport-Weston Health District in 1967. It was the first of 20 such districts in the state.

He was named director of the district he formed, and was named the Champion of Immunization by the Governor of Connecticut. 

Dr. Shiller was proud of his published works — especially “Childhood Illness and Childhood Injury: A Commonsense Approach,” which helped new parents recognize and treat common childhood ailments and injuries at home. This practical resource remains relevant today.

He is survived by daughter Bethanne McCarthy (husband Steven) of Savannah, Georgia; sons Stephen (Emily) of Ridgefield and son Andrew David (Raaya) of Jerusalem, Israel; brother Marvin (Annie) of Manhattan, and grandchildren Shane, Krystle, Jessica, Matthew, Samantha and Naama.

A graveside funeral service will be held tomorrow (Sunday, January 17), at Mt. Hebron Cemetery in New York. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only immediate family will be in attendance.

In lieu of flowers, donations in the name of Dr. Jack Shiller can be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

Pediatrician: Kids “Resilient” In COVID Crisis

Overall, Jonathan Sollinger says, kids are responding well to the COVID-19 crisis.

“They’re resilient and capable. They’re rising to the occasion.”

He should know. One of 6 physicians at Willows Pediatrics, Dr. Sollinger is closely attuned to the health — physical and emotional — of infants, toddlers, children, tweens and teens. Overall, he is heartened by what he sees.

Dr. Jonathan Sollinger

He knows anxiety levels are up. Pre-existing issues have been “illuminated.” The news is frightening. But youngsters understand what’s going on. They are processing the information, adapting, and reacting in generally appropriate ways.

Willows’ practice is adapting too. There are fewer calls to the office. Most injuries are down (through trampoline mishaps and bike scrapes are up). So are contagious diseases kids pass along in school: colds, strep throat, late-season flu. They still get rashes and appendicitis.

A young patient reacts appropriately — wearing a mask, and putting one on her doll.

Some also get the coronavirus.

Dr. Sollinger sees cases. Primarily they are students back from college, though some younger teenagers have it as well.

“They’ve done very well,” he says. “But there’s a lot of coughing, and long bouts of fever — 8, 10, 12 days. And of course there’s always fear.”

“But these kids are generally healthy. A teenager without asthma or an autoimmune disease can get through this.”

He knows that others besides those who have been diagnosed have had the virus. “Testing is so inadequate,” Dr. Sollinger laments.

His office is a different place than it was 2 months ago. Doctors still see children under 2, to keep up their immunizations. But they see them only in the early morning. Then come regular pediatric visits.

When a patient comes in that the staff has concerns about, everyone wears full PPE. They’re seen in a remote part of the office, at a special time.

Of course, the entire office is cleaned regularly, and thoroughly.

Dr. Sollinger and his colleagues treat most patients — including those with COVID-19 — out of the office, via tele-medicine. They can do many tasks, from inspecting rashes to watching the way a toddler walks, using FaceTime and other apps.

Willows’ staff takes all precautions.

It’s challenging, but prudent. And, the pediatrician says, it is probably a change that will remain even after the virus passes.

He sees some bright spots in the calamity. Parents are spending more time with their children (“that’s also a challenge,” he laughs). People of all ages seem “more willing to ride out difficulties than they were.”

The physician also sees “a lot of ingenuity and kindness. Kids are sewing and 3D-printing masks. They’re cooking for the Gillespie Center.”

Kids are getting creative, making and decorating their own masks.

Dr. Sollinger — who grew up in Westport, and graduated from Staples High School in 1986 — has great praise for his colleagues, all around town.

“It’s not just Willows. All the pediatric offices in Westport are doing a great job.

“We try to be there for the families, do what we can, be voices of reason. This is something we haven’t seen before. But we’re all getting through it.”

Especially the “resilient, capable” kids these pediatricians care for and love.