Short stuff: Health roundup
Dec. 6, 2006, proved to be an important day for children in the greater Chicago area. Two new emergency facilities, organized specifically to cater to the needs of pediatric patients, opened at two separate hospitals.
At The University of Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital on Chicago's South Side and at Central DuPage Hospital in the Western suburbs, children needing emergency care and treatment will now have access to fully staffed, high-tech ERs, exclusively planned for children and separate from the hospitals' general emergency departments.
The Comer Children's Emergency Department
When Comer Children's Hospital was initially built, it didn't have the funding-or space-to accommodate a full ER to meet all of the unique needs of pediatric patients.
"Fortunately, however, this was clearly recognized as being an extremely important component of children's continuum of care," says Dr. Mark Hostetler, section chief of pediatric emergency medicine, medical director of the department and an associate professor of pediatrics at University of Chicago.
Gary Comer, the hospital's primary philanthropist, "donated another large sum of money directed toward the construction of the second building and a state-of-the-art" emergency department, Hostetler says.
According to a news release, the Comer emergency department is "the only level one pediatric trauma center on Chicago's South Side." Level one equals the highest level of trauma care.
"It requires certification from the state and means that all seriously injured patients are preferentially transported to that facility, even if there are other closer hospitals," Hostetler says.
The hospital sees about 800 traumatized children per year, and the facility has pediatric trauma, neurosurgery, anesthesia and orthopedic specialists available on-site 24 hours daily.
The new department is designed to address the needs of children with complicated diseases, such as pediatric cancer, epilepsy, cardiac disease and severe trauma.
"In addition to the standard equipment of any ER, our new ER has cardiopulmonary monitoring in every room visible at the central station. There is special imaging technology including ultrasound, fluoroscopy and standard radiography," Hostetler says.
It also features two trauma rooms and two special procedure rooms, all equipped with technology to provide treatment to ease pain and discomfort.
Staffed by pediatric emergency specialists, "this is now the single largest and most specialized (emergency department) dedicated to children in the Chicago metropolitan area and state of Illinois," Hostetler says.
The Pediatric Emergency Department at Central DuPage Hospital
In conjunction with Children's Memorial Hospital, Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield saw a growing need for specialized children's care "close to home and family support systems."
While options are available in the Western suburbs and in Chicago, there has been a marked increase in the area's pediatric population.
"The well-worn phrase, 'children are not just small adults,' reflects the fact that children have many differences from adults in anatomy, physiology, medication dosing and cause of illness as well as the physical and emotional response to illness or injury," says Dr. Richard Marble, medical director of the pediatric emergency department.
The new department offers a team of providers specializing in the evaluation and treatment of illness and injury of children from birth through 18. It is part of the emergency department already in place at Central DuPage. But the pediatric department has the needs of children at its core-down to the emotional components of comfort and familiarity.
"An area of the emergency department has been remodeled and equipped to provide a child-oriented environment through items such as child-sized chairs, subdued lighting and a child-friendly décor, all aimed at reducing the stress" for the child and family, Marble says.
The facility includes a neonatal intensive care unit, a pediatric intensive care unit, an outpatient center, inpatient and outpatient surgery, medical imaging, telemedicine and an infusion center. New technology includes an electronic medical record as well as central cardio respiratory monitoring of all of the department's beds. Additionally, Marble adds, through its partnership with Children's, other technological enhancements and diagnostic tools are available, enabling "faster identification, diagnosis and initiation of information to the child's parents and family."
In addition, Central DuPage plans to expand outreach education programs for pre-hospital and community-based providers and the public, Marble says.
Maayan S. Heller recently moved to Chicago from Boston, Mass. She is a freelance writer who covers issues in health, women's health and fitness.