All Posts By



March is Women’s History Month

Children’s of Alabama is here today because, more than a century ago, a group of dedicated women saw the growing need for quality health care for children. In those early days at Children’s, an all-female group of volunteers did whatever was needed to operate the charity hospital, from scrubbing floors to sitting with sick children. The hospital’s first trustees were all women.

Today, women are involved throughout our hospital – from the board room to bedside. The women featured here all have very different roles at Children’s, but all are key to fulfilling the promise of the hospital’s original founders.

The Women of the Children’s of alabama Executive team

At Children’s of Alabama, 86 percent of our workforce is female. And you’ll see that reflected in hospital leadership as well.

This group of women has nearly 250 combined years of service at Children’s. Their leadership stretches from patient care, nursing and operations to customer service, finance, risk management and government relations.

Pictured left to right: Suzanne Respess, vice president, Government Relations; Lori Moler, vice president, Customer Service; Sandy Thurmond, vice president, Primary Care Services; Delicia Mason, vice president, Nursing Operations and Chief Nursing Officer; Chandler Bibb, Chief Development Officer; Heather Hargis, vice president, Operations; Stacy White, senior executive leader, Behavioral Health; Vickie Atkins, vice president, Risk Management; Heather Baty, vice president, Ambulatory Operations; and Jamie Dabal, vice president, Operations. Not pictured: Dawn Walton, Chief Financial Officer.

Kaylee Montgomery, BSN, RN PICU Charge Nurse

What led you to a career in healthcare?
My heart has always been drawn to pediatric healthcare. I love caring for others and being part of their medical journey. I am blessed to be a part of such an incredible facility.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
My mom has always been very influential to me. She is a dedicated wife and mother that has always been determined to give her family the best. I am forever thankful for everything she has taught me.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?
Women are successful and powerful in the workplace and I believe women are a necessity. Women bring knowledge, empathy and grace. There’s nothing a woman cannot accomplish!

Tracey Williams, Patient Services Manager, Food Services

What led you to a career at Children’s?
I have worked in healthcare food services since my days in the U.S. Air Force. My career working in hospitals started and flourished in Oklahoma City. For eight years, I served as a food service manager for a behavioral health facility that focused specifically on children. Just two years ago, I returned home to Alabama and started working at Children’s. I know I am meant to be here – I have a passion for food and children.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
My mother and my grandmother are the women that have impacted me most in my life with their love of good food, their nurturing and caring nature and strength to get any job done the right way.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?
My message for women trying to make their mark on the world would be to stand strong in your beliefs and work hard for your dreams. Also, to have faith and be better tomorrow than you were today!

Ashley Beasley, MD, Midtown Pediatrics Pediatrician

What led you to a career at Children’s?
Since childhood, I have dreamed of becoming a physician. I loved watching my pediatrician, especially using the tools in the exam room. I learned very early that a career in healthcare would be rewarding. 

Who are some women who have impacted your life?
My late mother definitely impacted my life greatly. Each day, I strive to become as loving, hardworking and dedicated as she was to her family and career. 

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?

I would like to encourage and empower all women to reach for the stars. There is no race or time limit in obtaining success. Work hard and at your own pace to achieve your own personal goals.

Payton McBryde, MS, OTR/L, Inpatient Occupational Therapy Coordinator

What led you to a career at Children’s?
I have always been driven to help people and find great satisfaction in serving others. When I was a freshman in college, the field of Occupational Therapy found me. I was having lunch with a friend who said, “I think you would really love occupational therapy and you’d make a great OT.” The following semester I completed a practicum at The University of Florida Shands Hospital with a pediatric OT and fell in love with the profession and the acute care setting. To be able to play a part in a child’s recovery process and to bring joy and hope to some of their most difficult days is a gift and immensely rewarding.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?

My mom and sister have impacted me in so many positive ways. My mom is the most energetic and positive person I have ever known.  She is a special education teacher and has served this population for 51 years.  Her passion for making a difference in the lives of these children is unparalleled. She is a ruthless advocate for her students and goes above and beyond to set them up for success. I have always admired her passion and commitment and the positive impact she has had on so many. My sister has taught me the importance and value of advocating and caring for myself in addition to others.  She is a successful businesswoman, effective communicator, and strong leader. I have always admired that she has made and followed her own path. I am beyond grateful for them and can only hope that I impact others in the way they have impacted me.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?

Pursue your passion and don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. There will always be challenges, stay strong and give things your best effort. Some things will come easy, but it’s the struggles and challenges that you will look back on and be most proud to have overcome. Try your best not to get caught up in comparison. Everyone’s path looks different, and regardless of how things look, things are not always as they appear.  Perhaps most importantly, find the joy in what you do.  It makes the “hard stuff” seem less significant.  

Ann Slattery, DrPH, RN, RPh, DABAT, FAACT, Director, Alabama Poison Information Center

What led you to a career at Children’s?
Serendipity! I was a chemistry major. I loved chemistry and math and wasn’t quite sure what to do with these degrees. My classes were filled with nursing, pharmacy, and pre-med students, so I gave it a try. I first worked in a NICU, but my true passion turned out to be toxicology.

Who are some women who have impacted your life?

Lori Moler impacted my life by believing in me. LaDonna Gaines impacted my life by encouraging me to have a work life balance. Erica Liebelt taught me that being a strong, intelligent woman is a good thing.  My daughter Mary Margaret impacted me by opening up another world by watching her grow.

What message do you have for women trying to make their mark on the world?

Education, Education, Education….It’s free to listen to new viewpoints. Knowledge in and of itself is not dangerous. The lack of it can be. John Mason Brown once said, the only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose…for me it has been toxicology.


The largest department at Children’s is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Along with housing 48 private rooms and 4 ECMO rooms, more than 230 women work in the department. From neonatologists to nutritionists to nurses and more, these women are making a profound impact on our tiniest patients.  


Inclement Weather Updates – February 16, 2023

February 17, 2023 8:00 am

All practices are open and back to normal business hours and operations.

February 16, 2023 3:30 p.m.

Due to the potential for severe weather, Greenvale Pediatrics Alabaster, Greenvale Pediatrics Brook Highland and Greenvale Pediatrics Hoover closed at 3pm today.

Nurses will be available for assistance and doctors will be available for telehealth visits as needed. The answering service can be reached at 205-930-4204.

If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.

February 16, 2023 2:30 p.m.

Due to the potential for severe weather, Pediatrics West Bessemer and Pediatrics West McAdory are closing at 2:30pm today.

A physician is on call for urgent medical needs. For Pediatrics West Bessemer patients, please call 205- 481-1886 to be connected to the after-hours answering service. For Pediatrics West McAdory patients, please call 205-426-3010 to be connected to the after-hours answering service.

If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.

February 16, 2023 2:00 p.m.

Due to the potential for severe weather, North Alabama Children’s Specialists is closing at 3pm today.

A provider is on call for urgent medical needs. Please call 256-533-0833 to be connected to the after-hours answering service.

If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.


Severe Weather Preparedness

Severe weather can happen at any time and in any part of the country. In Alabama, we are no stranger to this kind of weather, especially tornadoes. It is important to be prepared for these weather events and to have a plan for your family to stay safe. If you don’t have a severe weather plan, now is a good time to make one.

Children’s of Alabama experts recommend families discuss their severe weather plan in advance, including where they will go for safety. Specifically, you want to make sure to go to an area without windows. The basement of a house is ideal or an interior room without windows in the lowest level of the home. A bathroom or closet are also good options. Experts suggest that families practice going to their safe place to become more comfortable with the process.

Safe Place

  • Without windows
  • Lowest level of the home
  • Interior room

Additionally, families should prepare a severe weather bag for each member of the family. The bags should always be stored in their safe place. This bag should contain essentials such as:

Severe Weather Bag

  • Helmet
  • Flashlight
  • Hard-soled shoes
  • Clothing appropriate for rain and severe weather
  • Name band (filled out by parents)
  • Snacks

It is also recommended to keep a weather radio with an extra set of batteries in the safe place.

For more information on severe weather preparedness, visit


Dealing With a Stomach Bug

If you have little ones, you’re not a stranger to the infamous stomach bug. It spreads quickly among classmates at school, causes an upset tummy and, fortunately, only lasts a few days.

So, what exactly is the stomach bug? Gastroenteritis, often called the stomach bug or the stomach flu, is a common illness that causes nausea, vomitingdiarrhea, and belly cramps. Dr. Alicia Webb, emergency medicine at Children’s of Alabama, says most stomach bugs run their course within a few days with plenty of fluids and rest at home.

What Causes Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis happens when germs (viruses, bacteria or parasites) infect the stomach or intestines, causing inflammation. In kids, viruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis.

Many of the germs that cause gastroenteritis spread easily. Someone can get sick if they:

  • Touch something contaminated and then touch food or their mouth.
  • Share food or drinks with someone who is sick.
  • Live with someone who’s infected, even if that person isn’t sick.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Gastroenteritis?

The most common signs of gastroenteritis are vomiting and diarrhea. Many children also have a fever.

When kids have diarrhea or vomiting, they lose lots of fluid. This can lead to dehydration. If that happens, the body can have trouble working as it should.

How Is Gastroenteritis Treated?

There is no specific treatment for gastroenteritis, and most kids can be treated at home.

“It is okay if your child is less interested in food, but it is important to make sure your child stays well hydrated,” Dr. Webb says. Keep your child hydrated by offering plenty of liquids. Kids with more severe dehydration may need treatment in the emergency department or hospital.

Mild dehydration is treated with oral (by mouth) rehydration. This usually includes giving oral rehydration solution (such as Pedialyte, Enfalyte or a store brand). It has the right amounts of water, sugar and salt to help with dehydration. You can buy it without a prescription at drugstores or supermarkets. If you can’t get oral rehydration solution, talk to your doctor.

If your child has mild dehydration and your doctor says it’s OK to start treatment at home:

  • Give your child an oral electrolyte solution as often as possible. If your child throws up, start with small sips, about 1 or 2 teaspoons every few minutes.
  • Babies can continue to breastfeed or take formula as long as they are not throwing up repeatedly.
  • Don’t give babies plain water instead of oral rehydration solution. It doesn’t have the right nutrients for babies with dehydration.
  • Older children can have frozen electrolyte popsicles.
  • Do not give your child full-strength juice (undiluted), soda or sports drinks. These have a lot of sugar, which can make diarrhea worse.

When your child stops vomiting, you can offer small amounts of solid foods, such as toast, crackers, rice or mashed potatoes. Yogurt, fruits, vegetables and lean meat, like chicken, are also acceptable. 

A child who isn’t throwing up can eat a regular diet, if they feel up to it. It may take time for them to feel like eating. There’s no need to avoid dairy unless it makes the vomiting or diarrhea worse. Avoid fatty foods, which can make diarrhea worse.

To help your child feel better, let your child rest as needed. You can give medicine for fever or pain, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen (do not give ibuprofen to babies under 6 months old), if your doctor says it’s OK. Follow the package directions for how much medicine to give and how often.

Don’t give medicines for diarrhea or vomiting unless your doctor instructs you to do so.

Keep your child out of school or childcare until 24 hours without vomiting or fever and diarrhea has improved.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Dr. Webb says it’s important to “call your doctor or seek medical care if your child has vomiting or diarrhea and starts to act very sick, has signs of severe dehydration, develops a rash, or you notice blood in the vomit or diarrhea.”

Additionally, call the doctor if your child:

  • can’t drink for several hours
  • is peeing (urinating) less often (more than 4–6 hours for babies and 6-8 hours for older children)
  • has signs of dehydration, such as crying with few or no tears, having a dry mouth or cracked lips, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, acting very sleepy or less alert
  • has a high fever
  • is vomiting for more than 24 hours or the diarrhea doesn’t get better after several days

Children’s of Alabama Celebrates Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a time to honor the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans. At Children’s of Alabama, we are united in our mission and dedication in providing the finest pediatric healthcare to all children. Each of the employees featured here contribute to our core values of trust, teamwork, compassion, innovation and commitment. We thank them for sharing their stories of inspiration and impact.

Lantze Grissette
Benefit Counselor, 2 years of service

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama?
Before Children’s of Alabama, I was living and working in Atlanta for more than 20 years. When the opportunity opened up here at Children’s, it really was a no brainer: a tremendous opportunity to work for an organization that has such a stellar reputation.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
For inspiration, first and foremost I have to credit my Dad. He has always been there for me when things get tough. I look at his life and despite all of the hardship and trials he has endured, he finds a way to overcome obstacles without a complaint, a harsh word or blaming others. In fact, I have NEVER, ever heard him complain about anything EVER! He just pushes through with a smile. I love that guy!

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
My intent (like most people here at Children’s) is to help in any way I can. What I mean by that is you can make a one-time grand gesture or you can do the little things every day like smile, follow up or lend an ear to people’s troubles. As a benefits counselor, I believe it’s the smallest things that can make the biggest impact. I believe I am built to do just that.

Jacquese Smith, MS, MLS (ASCP) CM
Hematology and Chemistry Laboratory Supervisor, 4 years of service

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama? 
Being born and raised in Birmingham, Children’s of Alabama has always been an institution known throughout the community for the significant impact in helping children when they are not feeling their best. When I decided to transition in my career, I could not think of a better place to join. Children’s aligns with my personal values of compassion, commitment, teamwork, trust and innovation.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
My parents Kendrick and Kimberly Foy have been an inspiration to me all of my life and have continuously provided the tools that I needed to be the best me I could be. My father taught me to be compassionate and fair while in areas of leadership; my mother taught me to be consistent and intentional with my actions. They encourage me to continue to set goals for myself, work hard to play hard and to never lose sight of the greatness in myself as well as in others.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
I hope to inspire others to never take the word “no” to mean “never” when it comes to obtaining your goals. Instead, take it as a “not right now” and a challenge to yourself to take the time to ready your mind, body and spirit for the achievement of the goal so that when the time comes for you to achieve it, you are equipped with the discipline to surpass even your own expectations.

April Hooper Weatherly
Assistant Director of Nursing, Inpatient Behavioral Health, 18 years of service

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama?
I completed my undergraduate studies at Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN. I’d planned to spend the summer before graduation at home in Birmingham, but I also desired to work while I was here. I secured a position at Children’s of Alabama for the summer on what was 4 Southeast at the time. I loved the team and working on the unit, and it wasn’t long before I realized that I wanted to work in pediatrics. The summer was coming to an end, and I was preparing to return to school. I was informed about a scholarship program the hospital offered that provides tuition assistance in exchange for working at Children’s after graduation. I completed the necessary paperwork and soon after was notified I was a scholarship recipient. After graduation, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to return to 4 Southeast as a staff nurse. That moment has come full circle again as I serve in leadership on 4 Dearth, which comprises what was previously 4 Southeast.

What other African Americans have inspired you?

The African American who inspires me the most is my mom. She leads with a servant’s heart and is one of the most generous and caring people I know. As I’ve grown more in my professional career, Michelle Obama, Stacey Abrams, and Ketanji Brown Jackson are a source of inspiration. As an African American woman, I observed and analyzed how these women maneuvered in roles that were not traditionally inclusive. Their poise, tremendous restraint, graciousness and grit amid unwarranted attacks and attempts to disgrace and devalue their accomplishments are a playbook, of sorts, for those who feel pressure to quit when adversity comes their way.

How do you hope to inspire others?
The rarity of someone like me, an African American woman with a degree from an HBCU, serving in a leadership position, begs the question, how did you do it? I’m striving to create a legacy of hope by serving as an exemplar for those who need to see someone like them excel. I also hope to impact others by being a change agent, pushing forward difficult conversations where those with muted voices have a platform to share. I hope to inspire others by dispelling the myth that titles are the only measure of success or greatness. True success is diligence in work put before you, investing in yourself to nurture your craft, and doing what brings you happiness, not just financial gain. In the words of Stacey Abrams, “Not everyone’s ambitions will be world domination or Carnegie Hall, but we should be driven beyond what we know and feel safe doing.”

Demi Nicholson
Lead Respiratory Therapist, 16 Years of Service

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama?
I’ve always enjoyed working with kids. I was a student studying respiratory therapy at UAB when Children’s of Alabama was introduced to me as a future place of employment after graduation. I thought it would be the best of both worlds…working with kids in my field of study!

What other African Americans have inspired you?
Of course I appreciate the well-known famous African Americans for their inspirational stories, lives, events, inventions and sacrifices…such as Martin Luther King, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and other classic historical figures just to name a few….but my most inspirational African Americans are the ones who not only introduced me to God but also showed and taught me about God by the countless ways they love me. I am so blessed to be able to call them mom and dad! My parents…God showed out when he blessed me with them. My dad has since transitioned but his love for me lives on. I don’t have to look far at all to see or be reminded of their sacrifices, advice, life lessons, words of wisdom, charity and Christian lives that they have set before me. They are the wind beneath my wings and my biggest inspiration!

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
My motto is Live, Laugh, Love…love being the biggest! 1 Peter 4:8 tells us to love each other deeply! Laughter is the simplest form of happiness! When you’re enjoying, engaging and experiencing a good laugh, you aren’t thinking about any problems or negativity. Your undivided attention is on whatever it is that’s making you laugh and that in itself is the purest form of happiness, even if it’s only for a moment…what an amazing moment to LIVE in!

William Woods Jr.
3rd Shift Maintenance Supervisor, 28 years of service

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama?
After working 26 years in the military as a sergeant first class, I retired. At the time, my cousin was working in shipping and receiving at Children’s of Alabama and that is what brought me here when I finished active duty with the military.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
I thank God for my parents and family who have influenced me greatly. First, my wife, Mrs. Woods, along with my brother, Dana Woods, have inspired me. Dana is a battalion fire chief and fire marshal. Additionally, both of my cousins have been an influence: my cousin, Gary Richardson, is the Mayor of the city of Midfield, Alabama and my cousin Felicia Rucker Sumerlin was the first black female deputy chief for Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. I also had great influences from my time in the military. Lieutenant General AC Roper was my brigade commander and General Colin Powell was our joint chief of staff when I enlisted in the military. I have been around so many great leaders, all of whom influenced me in some way.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
I hope to give outstanding service to all of our staff members and patients. I hope to continue to have great relationships with Children’s staff by checking in on them. For the maintenance department and 3rd shift, I hope to inspire those I work with by selflessly serving – putting my staff ahead of my needs. Lastly, I desire to impact others through esprit de corps, a feeling of pride, fellowship and common loyalty.

Shannon Parker
Lead medical social worker, 5 years of service

What brought you to Children’s of Alabama?
I have always wanted to work at Children’s, since the beginning of my career as a Social Worker. After receiving my undergraduate degree from Miles College, I worked for the Alabama Department of Human Resources, focusing on Child Protection Services (CPS) for several years, advancing from caseworker to supervisor over investigations, ongoing family services, foster care and reunification services. Although I have experience working with adults as well, my specialization in graduate school at the University of Alabama was to work with children and families. Once I made my way here as a Medical Social Worker, I got a chance to witness the profession through a completely different lens. I had to put my skills of advocacy, assessment and intervention to the test, all while maintaining a level of compassion and understanding. To work for an organization whose primary focus is to serve and care for sick children, aiding families & eliminating barriers, all while withstanding the test of time, is truly amazing.

What other African Americans have inspired you?
My initial inspiration comes from my wonderful parents, Chester & Shirley Parker. They have always been my biggest supporters- encouraging me to never stop growing and advancing. In addition to my parents, Mary McLeod Bethune always stood out to me because of her educational activism and leadership. Then there is Shirley Chisholm, who was a huge advocate for early education and child welfare policies.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
Whenever I engage with someone, I always hope that they see my genuineness and know that I truly care. I always make an effort to be present and available for my colleagues and the population I serve. I hope to encourage others to always be humble. Go about your day with the understanding that you will never know what the person next to you is truly going through so always be kind.


RSV in Children: Everything You Need to Know

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can resemble a common cold. For children, though, especially those younger than 2 years old, it can be more serious.

RSV is an infection of the lungs and airways – it is a major cause of respiratory illness in children. In the Northern Hemisphere, including the United States, RSV occurs most frequently between November and April. However, the virus was on the rise earlier this year and has not slowed down since.

Keep reading to learn more about RSV, including symptoms, treatments and when you should call the doctor.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of RSV?

Kids with RSV might have cold symptoms, such as:

Sometimes, an RSV infection can lead to:

Is RSV Contagious?

RSV is highly contagious. It spreads through droplets containing the virus when someone coughs or sneezes. It also can live on surfaces (like counters or doorknobs) and on hands and clothing. So people can get it if they touch something that’s contaminated.

Because it can spread easily by touching infected people or surfaces, washing hands well and often can help stop it. Wash your hands after being around someone who has cold symptoms.

RSV can spread quickly through schools and childcare centers. Babies often get it when older kids carry the virus home from school and pass it to them. School-age kids who have a cold should keep away from younger siblings — especially babies — until their symptoms clear up.

How Is RSV Treated?

Most cases of RSV are mild and don’t need medical treatment. However, the infection can be more serious in babies and toddlers. Some might need treatment in a hospital where they can be watched closely and get supportive treatment for any breathing problems or dehydration.

Home Care

At home:

  • Make your child as comfortable as possible.
  • Allow time for recovery.
  • Provide plenty of fluids. Babies may not feel like drinking, so offer fluids in small amounts often.

If your child is too young to blow their own nose, use saline (saltwater) nose spray or drops and a nasal aspirator (or bulb syringe) to remove sticky nasal fluids. Clearing a baby’s nose before offering fluids can make it easier for them to drink.

Treat discomfort from a fever using a non-aspirin fever medicine like acetaminophen or, if your child is older than 6 months, ibuprofen

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Call your child’s pediatrician if your infant or child:

  • develops a fever after having a cold or has a high fever
  • has a cough or other symptoms that get worse
  • is wheezing
  • has labored or rapid breathing
  • shows signs of dehydration, such as fewer wet diapers than usual
  • refused to breastfeed or bottle-feed

Get medical help right away if your child:

  • is struggling to catch their breath
  • is very drowsy
  • has lips or fingernails that look blue
Health and Safety

Is My Child Too Sick to Go to School?

Being sure that a child is well enough to go to school can be tough for any parent. It often comes down to whether the child can still participate at school. Having a sore throat, cough, or mild congestion doesn’t always mean kids can’t handle class and other activities.

With flu and respiratory illness season in full swing, health experts ask that kids stay home when they have symptoms like a fever over 100.4°F, diarrheavomiting or trouble breathing.

As for other types of infections, chickenpox sores should be dry and crusted over before kids go back to school (usually this takes about 6 days). Kids with strep throat need a dose or two of antibiotics first, which can mean staying home the day after diagnosis (or possibly longer). Other contagious infections — like rubellawhooping coughmumpsmeasles, and hepatitis A — have specific guidelines for returning to school. Your pediatrician will help you discern these guidelines.

Licescabies, and ringworm shouldn’t keep kids out of school. If the problem is found by the teacher or school nurse, the child should stay in school until the end of the day. Kids who get their first treatment after school should be able to return to the classroom the next morning.

You know your kids best. A child who has the sniffles, but hasn’t slowed down at home is likely well enough for the classroom. However, one who coughed all night and had a hard time getting up in the morning might need to take it easy at home. When in doubt, call your pediatrician for advice.


Fever FAQs & Advice from a Pediatrician

All kids get a fever from time to time. A fever itself usually causes no harm and can actually be a good thing — it’s often a sign that the body is fighting an infection.

But when your child wakes in the middle of the night flushed, hot, and sweaty, it’s easy to be unsure of what to do next. Should you get out the thermometer? Call the doctor?

Here’s more about fevers, including advice from Children’s of Alabama pediatrician, Dr. Peily Soong.

What Is a Fever?

Fever happens when the body’s internal “thermostat” raises the body temperature above its normal level. This thermostat is found in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus knows what temperature your body should be (usually around 98.6°F/37°C) and will send messages to your body to keep it that way.

Most people’s body temperatures change a little bit during the course of the day: It’s usually a little lower in the morning and a little higher in the evening and can vary as kids run around, play, and exercise.

Sometimes, though, the hypothalamus will “reset” the body to a higher temperature in response to an infection, illness, or some other cause. Why? Researchers believe that turning up the heat is a way for the body to fight the germs that cause infections, making it a less comfortable place for them.

What Causes Fevers?

It’s important to remember that fever by itself is not an illness — it’s usually a sign or symptom of another problem.

Fevers can be caused by a few things, including:

Infection: Most fevers are caused by infection or other illness. A fever helps the body fight infections by stimulating natural defense mechanisms.

Overdressing: Infants, especially newborns, may get fevers if they’re over bundled or in a hot environment because they don’t regulate their body temperature as well as older kids. But because fevers in newborns can indicate a serious infection, even infants who are overdressed must be checked by a doctor if they have a fever.

Immunizations: Babies and kids sometimes get a low-grade fever after getting vaccinated.

Although teething may cause a slight rise in body temperature, it’s probably not the cause if a child’s temperature is higher than 100°F (37.8°C).

Is it a Fever?

A gentle kiss on the forehead or a hand placed lightly on the skin is often enough to give you a hint that your child has a fever. However, this method of taking a temperature (called tactile temperature) won’t give an accurate measurement.

Use a reliable digital thermometer to confirm a fever. It’s a fever when a child’s temperature is at or above one of these levels:

  • measured orally (in the mouth): 100°F (37.8°C)
  • measured rectally (in the bottom): 100.4°F (38°C)
  • measured in an axillary position (under the arm): 99°F (37.2°C)

But how high a fever is doesn’t tell you much about how sick your child is. A simple cold or other viral infection can sometimes cause a rather high fever (in the 102°–104°F/38.9°–40°C range), but this doesn’t usually mean there’s a serious problem. In fact, a serious infection, especially in infants, might cause no fever or even a low body temperature (below 97°F or 36.1°C).

Because fevers can rise and fall, a child might have chills as the body’s temperature begins to rise. The child may sweat to release extra heat as the temperature starts to drop.

Sometimes kids with a fever breathe faster than usual and may have a faster heart rate. Call the doctor if your child has trouble breathing, is breathing faster than normal, or is still breathing fast after the fever comes down.

Q&A with Dr. Soong, Pediatrician at Children’s of Alabama

Q: What advice do you have for parents when their child is dealing with a fever?

A: “Fevers are a natural way your body reacts when fighting off infections. For the most part, parents should not panic about a fever and can treat their child’s fever with over-the-counter fever reducers if their child is feeling bad from the fever. With normal cold infections such as the common cold or flu, fevers can commonly reach temperatures of 105F. Parents should not stress on how high a fever is, but stress on how their child is feeling or acting.”

Q: When should a parent call the doctor?

A: “Parents should contact their doctor immediately if their child is less than 2 months of age and has a temperature greater than or equal to 100.4F. Parents with older children with fever should seek immediate care if their child is lethargic, having trouble breathing, or not drinking. If at all concerned about your child having fever, go ahead and have your child seen by a doctor. Children with fevers persisting for several days should be evaluated by their doctor.”

Children's, Health and Safety

FAQs: 2022-2023 Flu, Respiratory Illness Season

Q: What is influenza or flu?

A: Influenza (also known as the flu) is an infection of the respiratory tract. It is caused by a virus that spreads easily from person to person.  It spreads when people cough or sneeze out droplets that are infected with the virus and other people breathe them in. The droplets also can land on things like doorknobs or shopping carts, infecting people who touch these things.

Q: Is flu contagious?

A: The flu is very contagious. People can spread it from a day before they feel sick until their symptoms are gone. This is about one week for adults, but it can be longer for young children.

Q: How will I know if my child has flu and not just a cold?

A: The fall and winter months are cold and flu season. Both the cold and the flu can present similar symptoms, including cough, congestion and runny nose. In general, the flu hits a lot harder and quicker than a cold. When people have the flu, they usually feel worse than they do with a cold. Most people start to feel sick about two days after they come in contact with the flu virus.

Q: What are some symptoms of flu?

A: Common symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish with chills, though not all people with the flu will have a fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, which are more common in children

Q: When should we get this season’s flu vaccine?

A: Flu season in the United States is from October to May. Vaccines are provided at most pediatricians’ offices. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the flu shot for everyone over 6 months old.

Q: What is the treatment for flu?

A: Most children with flu get better at home. In the event a child does get sick, you can help mitigate symptoms. Make sure your child is drinking plenty of fluids. You can give appropriate doses of acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve fever and aches, and make sure they are getting plenty of rest.

Q: When should I seek medical treatment for my child if I suspect flu?

A: Bring your child to the doctor if you’re concerned about severe symptoms. Most of the time parents can care for their children with plenty of rest, fluids and extra comfort. Some children are more likely to have problems when they get the flu, including:

  • children up to the age of 5, especially babies
  • children and teens whose immune system is weakened from medicines or illnesses
  • children and teens with chronic (long-term) medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes

Q: In addition to the flu vaccine, how else can we stay healthy during cold and flu season?

A:  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the flu shot for everyone over 6 months old. Here are some other tips for staying healthy during cold and flu season:

  • Cover your cough and sneeze
  • Wash your hands
  • Clean living and working areas
  • Avoid crowds
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

Q: How can we prevent the spread of germs in our house if my child is sick?

A: The flu virus spreads when people cough or sneeze out droplets that are infected with the virus and other people breathe them in. The droplets also can land on things like doorknobs or shopping carts, infecting people who touch these things.

Teaching children the importance of hand washing is the best way to stop germs from causing sickness. It’s especially important after coughing or nose blowing, after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food.

There’s a right way to wash hands, too. Use warm water and plenty of soap, then rub your hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds (away from the water). Children can sing a short song — try “Happy Birthday” — during the process to make sure they spend enough time washing. Rinse your hands and finish by drying them well on a clean towel. Hand sanitizer can be a good way for children to kill germs on their hands when soap and water aren’t available.

Cleaning household surfaces well is also important. Wipe down frequently handled objects around the house, such as toys, doorknobs, light switches, sink fixtures, and flushing handles on the toilets.

Soap and water are perfectly fine for cleaning. If you want something stronger, you can try an antibacterial cleanser. It may not kill all the germs that can lead to sickness, but it can reduce the amount of bacteria on an object.

It’s generally safe to use any cleaning agent that’s sold in stores but try to avoid using multiple cleaning agents or chemical sprays on a single object because the mix of chemicals can irritate skin and eyes.

Q: If my child has had flu, when can he return to school, child care, etc.?

A: Children with the flu should stay home from school and childcare until they feel better. They should only go back when they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without using a fever-reducing medicine. Some children need to stay home longer. Ask the doctor what’s best for your child.

Q: How do I know if my child’s symptoms are flu or COVID-19?

A: The symptoms between these two viral illnesses can be similar, making it difficult to distinguish between the two based on symptoms alone. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with the flu or COVID-19. A phone call to the child’s pediatrician or primary care provider will help determine next steps regarding testing for flu and/or COVID-19.

Q: Do COVID-19 symptoms develop like flu symptoms?

A: If a person has COVID-19, it could take them longer to develop symptoms than if they had flu. According to the CDC, symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Children’s of Alabama Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

We’re celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to honor the histories, cultures and contributions of our employees from Central and South America, Mexico and Spain. At Children’s of Alabama, we are united in our mission and dedication in providing the finest pediatric healthcare to all children. Each of the employees featured here contribute to our core values of trust, teamwork, compassion, innovation and commitment. We thank them for sharing their stories of inspiration and impact.

Itala Milan
Language Services Manager

What led you to a career in healthcare?
I was the child who always wanted to help others. The medical field has allowed me to explore different career paths over the years. I eventually landed within an area about which I am passionate.

Who are some Latinos or Latinas that have inspired you?
I will have to say my father was a great inspiration, he was kind and made an impact on everyone who knew him. He taught me that education and knowledge of languages were two vital tools I would need in my life (He was right!).

On the famous side, Ellen Ochoa, who was the first Latina to go to space and the second female to be the director of the Johnson Space Center. She broke through many barriers and used her drive to accomplish so much. I always find inspiration from one of her quotes: ““Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars. I believe a good education can take you anywhere on Earth and beyond.”

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
I hope I can have an impact on increasing awareness of the value of communication access, the use of technology available and communication going beyond the spoken word. If this eventually leads to our families at COA – to have a more positive patient experience – I will feel accomplished. I hope to inspire others by my actions: to motivate them to work hard and help build them up to have integrity, practice gratitude and stay true to who they are.

Evelyn Inestroza, RN
Emergency Department and CV Periop

What led you to a career in healthcare?
I chose to pursue healthcare/a career in nursing because of my mother and my sister. My mother is a nurse and growing up, I heard about her time as a nurse during the War in Nicaragua. I also watched how she cared for those in need in our community back in Honduras and then again when we moved to Alabama. The way she nurtured those in need with love and compassion are some of the qualities I knew came from her calling as a nurse.
I knew growing up I wanted to be in healthcare, but didn’t quite know what role I wanted to pursue. I remember choosing nursing as a career after my sister was given the devastating news that she could no longer pursue nursing due to her health issues. I chose to become a nurse to honor my sister’s dream.

Who are some Latinos or Latinas that have inspired you?
I consider my family to be my inspiration. My grandparents came from very little, yet they worked hard to give my parents an opportunity for a better life. My parents are my constant inspiration to want to do more; they are examples of hard work, loyalty, courage, determination, dedication and selflessness. Together they have managed to provide education not only for my siblings and I, but also for many others in Honduras and Nicaragua. My parents overcame many obstacles in their lives in order to provide for us and those in need, and I can say without a doubt that their efforts have paid off.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
I hope to impact the lives of those I encounter in or outside the hospital by setting an example of hard work, determination, compassion and show the endless possibilities you can accomplish as a nurse in someone’s life, including your own. I hope to remind parents that the hard work they are putting in now for the future of their children will one day also pay off as it did for me and my parents.

My hope is to inspire the younger generation to go after their dreams, to reach high and work hard, to take advantage of the opportunities they are given and use them for good. I hope to encourage our generation to use their talents, such as being bilingual to communicate effectively with those/and for those who struggle due to language barriers and help meet their health needs.

Amado Santos
Director of Patient Relations and Language services

What led you to a career in healthcare?
I chose healthcare because it gave me the opportunity to serve others. Since my early childhood in the west mountains of Honduras, I saw my mom and dad always being eager to serve others unconditionally. When I moved to the United States in 1989, my adoptive family in Alabama displayed the exact same spirit of servitude toward others. I always thought that I had to return to Honduras to be able to make a difference in my community; however, my career at Children’s has given me the opportunity to honor my parents (in both countries) by serving others as they did.

Who are some Latinos or Latinas that have inspired you?

Without a doubt my parents in Honduras. Regardless of the enormous challenges they faced due to lack of resources, they always found a way to keep food on the table for all of us (11 kids). To be humble, honest and work hard were expectations they had from me and my siblings. Most importantly they taught me to always treat others with kindness, dignity and respect.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?

I hope to have a positive impact for those around me by staying truthful to my personal and professional core values and principles. I seek to inspire others by being a more genuine, kind, honest and compassionate human being.

Cristina Cruz, RN
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner

What led you to a career in healthcare?
Coming from a border town and noticing the health disparities in underserved populations led me to want to help people in their most vulnerable times.

Who are some Latinos or Latinas that have inspired you?
I don’t have one or two Hispanic individuals that inspire me, I have thousands. I’m inspired by every single immigrant family out there that despite the stigma, having to learn another language and working long and odd hours to keep their family going, they wake up every morning and give it their all. Who could be more inspiring than them?

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?

I hope that as a nurse I can help educate the Hispanic people living in the South. It would be a dream to close the gap in health disparities in this underserved population. The fact that English is not your first language shouldn’t hinder you from being able to get the healthcare you need.

Representation is important. I hope by being on the front line, I can inspire the next generation of Hispanic healthcare workers! We need more of us that can relate to and educate our people.

Jeannette Elizondo
Certified Medical Interpreter

What led you to a career in healthcare?
I have always loved the healthcare field because you are constantly learning and will always have an opportunity to help someone in need.

Who are some Latinos or Latinas that have inspired you?
Honestly, the people that inspire me the most are my parents. They have always taught me to strive for the best, never give up, stay humble and always be kind because you never know what people are going through. They both have worked so hard for our family and I would never want to do anything to disappoint them. Both of my parents have had businesses of their own and didn’t let anyone or anything stop them. They have showed me to go for what you want and never give up.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?
I hope to provide the best interpretation services to all children and parents that walk through this hospital. The best way I plan to make the most significant impact is to think of Children’s of Alabama mission, and that is to ensure I provide the finest and most accurate interpretation to all of our families. I hope to inspire others to always advocate for every child or patient that comes through our doors by making them feel welcomed, safe and educated. I love Children’s of Alabama and I think we do a great job at showing everyone that we love being here!

Carolina Chacon, RN
7 Dearth MedSurg Nurse

What led you to a career in healthcare?
I was always drawn to the healthcare field. After a few clinical rotations in high school, I decided nursing was the career for me. Nursing is a very rewarding field, you learn something new every shift. In this field, one is responsible for advocating and delivering the proper care to patients of all ethnic backgrounds and cultures.

Who are some Latinos or Latinas that have inspired you?
My parents are my biggest inspiration. They left their home country, came to the U.S., learned a different language and worked in laborious jobs just to provide their children opportunities they never had. That to me is a huge sacrifice and the most inspiring thing anyone can do.

What kind of impact do you hope to have? How do you hope to inspire others?

I hope to impact other Latinos who are seeking careers in healthcare. Representation matters. I remember growing up thinking none of these people looked like me. Latinos are everywhere, being a minority is not a barrier. We can be anything we want to be and we can achieve all the things we put our minds to. Whether it’s being a nurse at Children’s of Alabama or being an astronaut at NASA. We are all capable of doing great things.


Children’s of Alabama believes in the importance of effective communication in order to deliver the best possible family-centered pediatric care to all our patients and families. Language Services’ goal and commitment are to ensure that all language needs within our hospital are met in a timely and effective manner.

Our staff Spanish interpreters are trained medical interpreters who are cognizant of the importance of culturally-competent care. These services are provided free of charge to all our families and patients who need them.

Above are some of our Language Services team who bridge the communication gap for patients and families every day. Pictured left to right: Dahlia Smith, Irsia Quevedo, Jeanette Elizondo, Amado Sandos, Veronica Ramirez, Itala Milan, Areli Torres.