Pediatricians have a unique and special relationship with their patients. Unlike other doctors who might only pop into our lives temporarily, primary care pediatricians have the unique privilege to witness a child’s development from birth through young adulthood. They are there to help assess and celebrate each developmental milestone, treat minor to complex illnesses, evaluate an injury or provide reassurance for normal growing pains. They are there to help guide you through management of a fever, discuss nutritional concerns, or provide expert counsel and advice regarding vaccinations. And, then suddenly the infant they remember is an adult. Just like parents, pediatricians know that time can seem to go by in the blink of an eye.
At Advocare Moorestown Pediatrics, their patients haven’t just become adults, they are bringing in their own children and grandchildren. “We were founded in 1968 by Dr. Charles Moloney. We have a number of third-generation families coming to us. These parents and grandparents love to tell us they were his patient,” says Dr. John Giardino. “I was fortunate to work with Dr. Moloney until he retired in the early 2010s. He was a mentor to me in my early years and was always so caring. Every day we strive to carry on his legacy in this practice.”
That legacy includes taking a team approach to caring for patients. Dr. Giardino sees the physician, parents and the patient as members of a team with the shared goal of achieving the best care possible. It’s something he understands all too well as a parent himself.
“Being blessed with kids myself has undoubtedly helped me become a better pediatrician. When I first finished my medical training, I didn’t have kids yet, but now those concerns I hear take on a new meaning, and I often find I personally share or have experienced many of the same concerns,” Dr. Giardino says. “As a parent I understand and sympathize with how much parents worry and care about their children. There is nothing more important.”
First and foremost, Dr. Giardino understands that a pediatrician should be willing to take the time necessary to listen and understand what’s going on with a patient to best evaluate the underlying cause. “I believe in working together with the patient and the parents to come up with the best approach forward that fits with evidence-based medicine, while also taking into consideration any personal, religious or cultural beliefs or standards that the patient or family might bring to the table as well,” he says.
That includes being as holistic as possible. “Families who work with me know that I’m open to traditional and complementary approaches to achieving their health-related goals,” he says. “Whenever possible, I like to include nutritional and non-pharmacological approaches that are medically appropriate. I feel the growing ‘food as medicine’ initiatives are taking health care in a positive direction.”
As a physician, Dr. Giardino feels it is always his duty and goal to provide the most up-to-date, best researched and evidence-based approaches. “As a profession, we are all learning more and more about integrative and increasingly comprehensive approaches to patient care. We are always open to working collaboratively with other medical specialists, therapists, nutritionists, chiropractors, health coaches and certified complementary medical providers.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought new challenges to the field of pediatrics that has made Advocare Moorestown Pediatrics’ collaborative efforts even more important.
“In our office, we’ve seen more and more patients struggling with feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety and fear of what’s going on. It’s scary enough as adults ... and kids and teenagers have their own feelings. We are all bombarded by news that’s not always so positive. We’ve never treated as much depression and anxiety as we have in the past couple of years,” Dr. Giardino says.
Due to the demand on behavioral health fields, the practice has taken a more direct role to help families manage and navigate these issues, while staying within the scope of their care. “It’s not uncommon for our physicians and providers to work collaboratively with psychiatrists, psychologists and behavioral care specialists in the community, and we have a pediatric nurse practitioner within the practice who is currently working to obtain her own psychiatric nurse practitioner certification.
“We’ve also been seeing a growing number of patients with eating disorders, and our practice has been able to help manage these patients from a primary care perspective, as well as helping the families find additional appropriate resources.”
Other times, care just means providing the best, most sound advice possible. “There has been a lot of disinformation out there and that has created a challenge for us to balance the myths versus the truth,” he says. “But we also have to be open to the fears and concerns of families and work together to provide the safest care we can for the kids.”
Convenience and accessibility are other key factors that parents seek from pediatricians. The staff at Advocare Moorestown Pediatrics work diligently to offer same-day acute care appointments whenever possible, whether in-person or virtually. The practice also has relationships with other health care systems in the area. “Our physicians round on newborns that choose our practice at Virtua Voorhees and Virtua Mount Holly,” Dr. Giardino says. “We have also worked collaboratively through the years with an extensive list of specialists at CHOP, DuPont Hospital for Children (Nemours) and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. We are very fortunate in South Jersey, and the Greater Philadelphia area, to have some of the best specialists in the country in our local community.”
For someone who was inspired to follow his uncle’s footsteps into pediatrics, Dr. Giardino is grateful to be part of his patients’ lives. “Our practice is small enough that the providers truly get to know the families and we’re able to take the time necessary to work with them and answer their questions,” he says. “I think it’s those bonds we form over the years that creates a more durable, lasting patient-physician relationship, and that hopefully leads to better health outcomes.”
Advocare Moorestown Pediatrics
212 W. Route 38,Suite 400,Moorestown