For the Children
By Kirby Tello
By: Kirby Tello Photo by: Rachel Benavides
Meet Ada Booth, M.D., F.A.A.P. and attending physician with the Child Abuse Resources and Evaluation (CARE) team at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. The CARE team primarily provides medical forensic services to children who are victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. The team consists of two board-certified child abuse pediatricians (Dr. Booth and her counterpart), forensic nurse examiners, social workers, and support staff with involvement from hospital administration.
Before joining the CARE team, Dr. Booth received her medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2006. She completed her pediatric residency training at University Hospital and Clinics at the University of Missouri in Columbia. While Dr. Booth had been interested in medicine her entire life, she quickly realized that her passion was pediatrics. “I like peds because the patients are always positive,” says Dr. Booth. “Pretty much regardless of the situation, they are happy, smiling, and laughing – even through the toughest situations.” Therefore, she knew early on that child abuse prevention fulfilled her professional interests. The prevention work is still her favorite part of her job.
Having spent seven years in Corpus Christi so far, Dr. Booth is all too familiar with the child advocacy needs in the community. Much of her work starts with the medical staff at Driscoll, where the medical office alerts the CARE team of suspected neglect of a child. However, Dr. Booth receives child abuse patients from many sources. “We receive referrals from investigative agencies or even families if they are aware of our services,” explains Dr. Booth. “We hope people don’t ever have to use our services, but we want people to know that we exist and can come directly to us,” she says.
That’s where the prevention work comes in. Dr. Booth and the CARE team often partner with local non-profit organizations that partake in child advocacy initiatives to spread awareness about non-accidental trauma and child abuse. One particular non-profit, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), has a more specific relationship with CARE. At times, CASA will consult the CARE team when they need more information about a child’s medical issues and injuries to support a case in the event of a trial.
Dr. Booth understands the enormous responsibility that falls on pediatric physicians. She explains that in a way, “the ownness is on peds to fix the world…because it is the children who grow up to be the future of the community.”
The work of the CARE team is more vital than anyone might think. Before CARE existed, children in abusive environments would essentially be returned home to more potential harm. Now, Dr. Booth, who currently serves as the Child Abuse Prevention Specialist for the Texas State Fatality Review Team, has banded together with her local teams with the singular focus of helping to reduce the number of preventable child fatalities in our community.