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Sickle Cell Disease Treatment at BMC

Sickle Cell Disease Treatment at BMC

Boston Medical Center is committed to providing our patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) with highly personalized care to manage their symptoms. Typically, pain “crises” are often experienced due to sickle-shaped red blood cells blocking blood flow through blood vessels to the chest, abdomen and joints. Many other organs in the body can be affected by this disease as well. 

This year, our adult and pediatric sickle cell programs were combined to form the largest center in all of New England to provide care for SCD patients across their lifespan, under the directorship of Elizabeth Klings, MD, Program Director for the Center of Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease.

For patients admitted to the ED due to their sickle cell disease, the amount of time needed to get first dose of pain medication has decreased nearly 50%. Outpatient clinic access is now available five days per week, and all hospitalized patients are now seen within one week of being discharged.  Additionally, a group of five primary care providers have been working together to standardize chronic pain management of these patients, who all receive individualized treatment plans.

One reason we’ve been able to expand our sickle cell services is due to our growing team.  Two new members have recently joined.

Hedy Smith, MD, PhD, has recently joined the Center for Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease at BMC as Director of the Adult Sickle Cell Program. Coming to us from Tufts Medical Center where she served on faculty since 2003, Dr. Smith is a leader in the care of adult patients with sickle cell disease. She has been recognized by the Boston City Council and the Greater Boston Sickle Cell Disease Association for "Excellence in Medicine and Advocacy on Behalf of Patients with Sickle Cell Disease".  Dr. Smith was named as a “Top Doctor” by Boston Magazine in 2014 and 2015, and by the US News and World Report in 2012 and 2015.  

The team also welcomed Charlene Sylvestre, MSN, NP-C, MSW, a nurse practitioner arriving also from Tufts Medical Center. Charlene is assuming responsibility in her new position with high energy and enthusiasm, making her a key member of the treatment team. She sees sickle cell patients during five clinic sessions per week and also visits those admitted to the hospital with complications.  
Sickle Cell Disease affects nearly 100,000 people living in the United States. To learn more, visit the Center of Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease webpage.