‘Patients’ and Perseverance: Pelican Pediatrics reopens in LaPlace

Published 1:27 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2023

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LAPLACE — More than 18 months after its previous location was devastated by Hurricane Ida, Children’s Hospital New Orleans Pediatrics (Pelican Pediatrics) has found a new home at 465 Belle Terre Boulevard in LaPlace.

The new location will allow the clinic to continue serving generations of River Parishes families, building upon a tradition that has been in place since Dr. Marty Klein opened the original office on Main Street in the mid 1970s.

Dr. Klein was already seeing second-generation patients when Dr. Reita Lawrence joined back in 1996. She’s now seeing 90s babies return with babies of their own as the Pelican Pediatrics family grows larger with each passing year. It was an adjustment for everyone — doctors, staff and patients — when the office was temporarily relocated to Destrehan after the storm.

Hurricane Ida tore through the roof of the building that previously housed Pelican Pediatrics on Airline Highway in LaPlace, bringing an onslaught of water down to the bottom floor. Powerful winds blew out most of the windows and peeled off siding, leaving damage so extensive that the owner of the building decided not to rebuild. Pelican Pediatrics initially moved to Rainbow Pediatrics on Rue de Sante, but space limitations meant the Pelican team could only see patients a couple of days a week. For most of the past 18 months, the clinic has operated out of Ormond Pediatrics in Destrehan.

Drs. Reita Lawrence, Jaime Michel, Brandi Naccari and Karen Kern returned to LaPlace when the Belle Terre office opened on March 6.

“I think the biggest challenge was to our patients,” Dr. Lawrence said. “Our office in LaPlace is centrally located. We draw from the St. Charles area, and we also draw from St. James and further out. We have patients who come from Prairieville and Baton Rouge, Gonzales, Hammond and Ponchatoula. It was an extra little trek to go to Destrehan.”

According to Dr. Lawrence, the greatest lessons drawn from being displaced were patience and perseverance.

“One of the things we had to do was fight to continue to have our LaPlace office, and that was really important to me because we had already been out here for 40 years. We serve a diverse group of people of different races and economic levels, and I thought it was important that they continue to have access to really good pediatric care,” Dr. Lawrence said. “We had to have patience because it was not a quick process trying to find a building when everything was damaged…We really love and embrace this community, and I think we’ve proven that time and time again by having families who are second and third generation who are loyal to us because they know that we care about their kids.”

Pelican Pediatrics is part of the LCMC Health System. For more information or to make an appointment, call 985-652-6359.