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Local doctor discusses pediatrics

Jillian Barwick | Monday, March 26, 2012

As part of Saint Mary’s Cross Currents Collegiate Speaker series, Dr. Colleen Morrison spoke Monday about her decision to develop a health care program for underserved children in South Bend.

“Many people may think of third world countries as needing better health care programs for children,” Morrison, a 1996 graduate of Saint Mary’s, said. “There are a lot of areas in the United States that are in great need for pediatric programs, as well.”

Morrison, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Memorial Children’s Hospital in South Bend, attended medical school at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Illinois after graduating from Saint Mary’s.

“My parents always knew I would come to Saint Mary’s, even if I did not,” Morrison said. “I really fell in love with biology after taking my required science course. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I graduated, but I knew that I liked science.”

Board-certified in general pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology, Morrison completed a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology stem cell transplantation at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

“After working in a lab for two years collecting bone marrow, I realized that I wanted to learn more about the people who were giving the bone marrow,” Morrison said. “I began assisting with bone marrow procedures for a couple of years.”

While researching, Morrison said she believed she would eventually work in adult oncology but liked pediatric hematology/oncology more as a medical student.

“I loved pediatrics,” she said. “It just felt right.”

When Morrison moved back to South Bend a year-and-a-half ago after completing her fellowship, she said she was eager to start a pediatric program at Memorial.

“My recruiter ended up leaving Memorial right as I was deciding to join the team,” she said. “This was an interesting experience to go through, especially right after finishing my fellowship.”

Morrison said it is important to develop a children’s health care program at Memorial because there are few other opportunities for children to receive health care in the South Bend area.

“Memorial Children’s Hospital in South Bend has 72 beds for children, 15 specialists and 9 specialties,” she said. “The next closest children’s hospital is in Fort Wayne.”

It is important to develop these health care programs because the number of children who need high quality health care has increased in the South Bend area, Morrison said.

“The recruitment of young people who are dedicated to changing the culture is greatly needed,” Morrison said. “Recruiting experts as well as having people investing in the programs are also needed.”