Much like Hugh Laurie in the TV medical drama, “House,” Dr. Scott Pangonis plays medical detective when it comes to evaluating, diagnosing and managing children with complex medical issues. As Akron Children’s newest pediatric infectious disease physician, he tackles health mysteries using a systemic approach to search for answers about whether or not a child’s symptoms are caused by infectious disease.
In his new role, his goal is to develop and update processes for patient care in the immunocompromised population using quality improvement because to him, it’s not just a job or another case to close. Rather, his true passion lies in providing better care to quickly get kids back to play.
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
I wanted to join an organization with a collegial work environment. I found that, even during my first interview at Akron Children’s Hospital, the people I met were very welcoming and open to potential interdivision collaboration for future projects.
Plus, my family and I moved to Copley, OH, which we have found to be a family-friendly city.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish?
I am a pediatric infectious disease specialist who evaluates patients to determine if their symptoms are due to an infectious etiology in the inpatient and outpatient setting. I perform pre-transplant evaluations for patients planning to undergo hematopoietic stem cell or kidney transplantation. Finally, I am the associate director of infection control and prevention. I hope to develop and update processes for patient care in the immunocompromised population using quality improvement.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
My area of expertise is in the management of infections in immunocompromised patients. These patients are at a much higher risk of infection-related complications. In addition, they are more likely to be on prolonged courses of broad-spectrum antimicrobials than the average hospitalized patient, which can have unintended consequences.
There is a need for advancements related to this population in the fields of antibiotic stewardship and infection control. In addition, they are a very complex patient population that require special considerations by specialists, as their care may deviate from that of other populations.
Do you have a favorite instructor or mentor?
Dr. Lara Danziger-Isakov was one of my faculty mentors during fellowship. Not only was she one of the most intelligent people I’ve worked with, but she also is very humble and caring. She can develop rapport with families and patients easily, in addition to knowing the extensive details of her patients’ medical records. I aspire to provide the same level of expertise and caring.
When did you decide to become a provider and why?
I started my undergraduate studies in the field of computer engineering. Unfortunately, my failing grades and a lack of interest to continue to pursue a career involving programming prevented me from completing this dream.
I was working at Arnold Palmer Medical Center in Orlando, FL, as a unit secretary. One of the infectious disease physicians, Dr. Lamprecht, was very patient in educating me on various topics related to her field, despite being the only Peds ID (infectious disease) physician for 3 years in Orlando. I decided then that I wanted to be a pediatric infectious disease specialist. Luckily, failure was a powerful motivator and drove me in my pursuit for a career in the field of pediatric ID.
What do you like most about being a provider?
I enjoy teaching students and residents the most. I will be in practice for a finite amount of time. I hope to pass on what I’ve learned during my career to the future physicians and continue to learn from them. I also enjoy educating families as they are the ones who will be carrying out the proposed care plans.
What unique or different skills do you have that help you practice medicine?
I excel at problem solving, which aids in my evaluation of patients with complex medical issues. I approach diagnostic and management dilemmas in a systemic way to determine if there is one unifying diagnosis or multiple. This helps me to proceed with their evaluation and management in a thorough manner.
How does your personality fit your role?
I can be silly at times, which I have found helpful in putting younger children at ease during their visits. Although I can be extremely detail oriented, I am able to communicate with families in a succinct way so that they can understand our plan of care. Finally, my caring nature is reflected in my approach to patient care. I want families to know that I am not just here because it’s my job. I am here to help their child.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Orlando, FL, with my 3 siblings (2 older and 1 younger).
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
I have been married to my wife, Tierra, for 7 years. We have a 4-year-old son named Benjamin and a Corgi named Watson.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an engineer like my dad when I was growing up.
Who had the greatest influence on you and why?
My parents had the greatest influence on me growing up. They both worked full time. My mother went back to college and completed her bachelor’s degree in nursing when I was in grade school, yet she still made time for us. My dad would sit down with me every night and go over my math homework and he was the coach of my soccer team, despite working a full-time job.
What’s the first thing you do when you get home from work?
I hug my son and take over for my wife in whatever play activity they are engaged in.