Being a healer and an advocate for children is in Dr. Paige Perriello’s blood, though that role has taken on an even greater importance in recent years.
Perriello’s name is a familiar one to many in the Charlottesville community who trust the Pediatrics Associates doctor not only to treat their children but to listen and to care about them as well.
That work has changed significantly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as pediatricians and parents across the globe were forced into new roles, guiding children through frightening and uncertain times.
“One of the things that keeps me going every day is the opportunity and the privilege to be part of families’ lives and to care for these families, who have had it hard even before COVID,” she said. “My colleagues and I, at Pediatrics Associates have worked really hard to try to give families the answers that we can and the more conversations you have, the more you realize how scary it is for families and how much families are hurting.”
In an effort to help abate the spreading fear and medical misinformation, Perriello and her associates partnered with the Blue Ridge Health District to help educate children about the virus and to encourage vaccinations.
Teaching children about something as serious as a pandemic and vaccines is no easy task, but Perriello said that, with the help of her colleagues, the health district and a truck from Kona Ice Cville, she had never seen so many children excited to get vaccinated.
“Kids are the best, and they’re listening all the time, and so parents are often surprised at what they hear their kids ask and say,” Perriello said. “It’s great to just be able to tell the kids directly, talk to them directly and hear what they want to know.”
Perriello’s knack for both healing and listening to children is a skill she said she learned from her parents, Linda and Vito. Her father was one of the founders of Pediatrics Associates, a practice that Perriello herself now leads, helping hundreds of local families.
Describing her parents as role models, Perriello said she was always destined to join her dad in his work and also describes her mother as a “renaissance woman,” whose tireless work helped bring girls lacrosse and field hockey to Charlottesville’s public schools.
“I think I was sort of always destined to come back and join my dad in the practice, it was a natural fit for me,” she said. “And my mother is brilliant, an expert at everything she does, generous, giving, creative and always giving back to others.”
After initially receiving a liberal arts education from Princeton University, Perriello said she later decided to study to become a pediatrician at George Washington University Medical School in Washington, D.C.
After graduating, she returned to Charlottesville in 2008 and joined her father’s practice but only worked with him for about six months before he retired and soon thereafter died.
“I get to take care of the second and third generations of people that my dad took care of, which is just a beautiful gift to me,” she said. “One of the really cool gifts has been just continuing to hear from parents, grandparents and great grandparents about things my dad taught them and time that they had together.”
That bond between Perriello and her young patients is something that many cite when talking about the healer, including Anna Brooks. A mother of three sons, Brooks said Perriello has been the family’s pediatrician for eight years, seeing them through some difficult times.
A couple of years ago Brooks said her youngest son had a seizure that required ambulance transport to the University of Virginia Medical Center. Throughout the whole ordeal, Brooks said Perriello was there to help treat not only her son who experienced the seizure but her other sons who witnessed the event.
“She had involvement and hands on everything, which gave us a degree of peace of mind that was invaluable,” Brooks said. “She spent hours of her time that she didn’t have to just being there with us to make sure that we were okay. She really, truly cares for not only her patients, but for the entire family.”
This level of dedication was echoed by Kristin Clarens, a longtime friend of Perriello’s, who highlighted the doctor’s work spearheading vaccination clinics that “made the injections for our little ones seem more like a party than a chore.”
“She managed to do this at a time when the rest of our community’s focus and energy for the pandemic seems to be fading,” Clarens said. “She has never wavered in her support of our children despite the exhaustion, fear, isolation and exposure that she endured herself, especially in the early months of the pandemic.”
Though Perriello has spent countless hours of her time working to combat the pandemic both as an educator and a healthcare provider, she said she could not have accomplished what she has without her staff and colleagues both at Pediatrics Associates and within the Blue Ridge Health District.
Their work is far from finished, she said, highlighting the growing infection rates in Central Virginia and the push to get people vaccinated.
“Our vaccination rates in Charlottesville and Albemarle are extremely high, but our community is larger than that and includes all of the Blue Ridge Health District,” Perriello said. “At our office we talk to all of our patients about it when they’re in the office and try to help answer questions and try to move that effort forward. And of course, looking forward to when the under five-year-olds can get vaccinated as well.”
Name: Dr. Paige Perriello
Hometown: Charlottesville, Virginia
Residence: Charlottesville, Virginia
Pastimes: Reading and spending time with her family