Being small is a big deal, especially when there’s a medical emergency.
That’s why Brenner Children’s Hospital – the only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in North Carolina – has opened a new emergency facility tailored to the unique needs of its young patients from across the region.
“Children are not small adults; they have very distinct physical and emotional characteristics,” said Milan Nadkarni, M.D., medical director of the Emergency Department at Brenner, which is part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “We are the only emergency department in the area that treats children exclusively. As such, everything we have – from specially trained staff and custom diagnostic devices to child-size instruments and colorful decor – is specific to caring for children and making the experience as safe, comfortable and anxiety-free as possible for each child and family.”
The new Emergency Department is a 20,665-square-foot facility with 18 examination rooms, four larger treatment rooms, two trauma rooms and a diagnostic suite. The beds, wheelchairs and other equipment are child-size, and the medical devices and instruments are specifically designed for use with children.
The facility’s spacious layout and its decor – which includes multicolored window panes in the lobby and child-oriented pictures on room and hallway walls – also were designed with the child’s perspective in mind.
“Children respond well to color and space, so we have incorporated those elements as much as possible to make this a less intimidating environment for them,” Nadkarni said.
The room where CT scans are performed – named “Pirate Island” – exemplifies how the department’s various child-oriented features work in concert. The walls, floor and scanning apparatus are decorated in a tropical-nautical motif more evocative of a theme park than a hospital, while the CT device itself is faster than other scanners and allows smaller doses of radiation that are more appropriate for children. Combined, the “distraction therapy” of the colorful decor and the scanner’s capabilities serve to reduce both the young patient’s stress level and the need for sedation during diagnostic procedures.
The Emergency Department also has a full-time staff of doctors, nurses, therapists and other health care workers trained in both pediatrics and emergency medicine, plus more than 130 specialists in 30 areas of pediatric medicine who are readily accessible for consultation, treatment and care.
“Trauma is the number one cause of injury and death to children in the United States, so there is a clear need for a facility built around children’s needs,” said James Hoekstra, M.D., chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “The new Emergency Department at Brenner Children’s has the resources to not only provide top-level comprehensive care for ill and injured children but also to attract physicians and other professionals dedicated to pediatrics and advancing our knowledge of how best to protect and promote children’s health.”
The new pediatric emergency facility, constructed at a cost of approximately $19 million, opened in April. Prior to that, Brenner’s emergency functions were performed in a section of Wake Forest Baptist’s Emergency Department.
Approximately 29,000 children under age 18 are treated annually at Brenner’s Emergency Department, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Brenner’s treatment of injured children is backed by the research and advocacy of the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma, which was founded at Wake Forest Baptist in 2008.
Detailed information about the Brenner Children’s Hospital Emergency Department is available at http://www.brennerchildrens.org/ED/.