Emergency Pediatric Care Takes Center Stage at Danbury Hospital
$1 Million Donation Will Help Make "Dream Come True"
Families with children in crisis will have access to a private pediatric treatment area tailored to meet the unique medical needs of young patients when Danbury Hospital opens its state-of-the-art Emergency Department next spring. "We are entering a new era in pediatric care with enhanced services for children and adolescents," said Raul Arguello, M.D., chairman of the Pediatrics Department at Danbury Hospital. "Having a dedicated pediatric, family-friendly area in the Emergency Department will greatly benefit the community. Families can count on us if they have an emergency."
"This is a dream come true,"said Patrick Broderick, M.D., chairman of Emergency Medicine at Danbury Hospital. "The ability to treat children in a private and more controlled setting will allow us to provide kids and their families a more healing and nurturing environment."
Helping to make the pediatric modernizations to the Emergency Department possible is a $1 million gift from Gregory D. Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of Maplewood Senior Living, which operates five assisted living and memory care residences in Connecticut, with a sixth opening in the Fall of 2014.
"Danbury Hospital is an important regional resource for people of all ages, including its youngest residents," said Smith, a board member of the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation and the Network's Planning Committee. The network includes Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital.
"The new pediatric center in the Emergency Department will give parents peace of mind," added Smith. "Families are now able to receive high-quality emergency care in their local community and in a private and compassionate setting whenever the need arises."
Demand for Services Exceeds Capacity
Children 18 and younger comprise about 20 percent of the 70,000 patient visits to Danbury Hospital's Emergency Department each year. Youngsters arrive with issues ranging from fever, abdominal pain and respiratory problems to cuts, sprains, fractures and traumatic injuries. While every patient who comes to the Emergency Department receives high-quality care, treating children in an area away from the general public has been difficult because of cramped quarters and the high demand for services, explained Dr. Broderick. "We handle about 70,000 visits a year in a space designed to service 40,000 patients a year," he said.
"The relatively healthy pediatric patient is currently competing with sicker, adult patients who may be having a heart attack or facing other life-threatening problems," said Dawn Martin, director of patient care and the Emergency Department's manager. "We understand the frustrations parents feel when they have to wait."
Improvements Come with North Tower Project
The new Emergency Department is part of the $150 million North Tower project that will add 300,000 square feet of new construction to Danbury Hospital's existing campus. The project doubles the size of the Emergency Department to 40,000 square feet, increasing bed capacity from 40 examination areas to 69 private exam rooms to handle 88,000 visits per year.
Among the changes to pediatric care underway:
- A separate eight-bed pediatric suite within the Emergency Department with private rooms to diagnose and treat young patients from infancy to 18 years of age. The self-sufficient unit will have its own specialized staff, child-friendly waiting room, nursing station, medication distribution machines and nutrition center for families. The larger rooms will have space for parents, family members, strollers and more. Televisions, video games and other amenities will be on hand to distract children during their visit.
"The Emergency Department is scary enough," said Dr. Arguello. "Kids don't need to see what's going on with adult patients."
- The pediatric suite's location adjacent to the main Emergency Department entrance will expedite care. "Pediatric patients will be seen expeditiously at triage and brought directly to the pediatric area where the only adults they will see are their parents, family members and caregivers," said Martin.
- Children who need an x-ray or CT will be able to stay in the emergency treatment area because the pediatric unit will be next to the Emergency Department's Radiology Suite.
- Adolescents with behavior health issues will have private examination and counseling rooms "to give families and children the privacy they need," said Dr. Broderick.
- One of the four Emergency Department rooms specially designed to treat trauma and cardiac patients will be fully equipped to handle pediatric patients.
- The staff will include physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses and other healthcare professionals with specialized training, available round-the clock both in the Emergency Department and in the pediatric inpatient unit. Physician and nursing "pediatric champions" are developing evidence-based protocols for treating children.
"Kids are not little adults," said Dr. Arguello. "They have specific health care needs."
Coordinated Pediatric Care
Hospital officials are working with area pediatricians to coordinate care to keep children out of the Emergency Department whenever possible and facilitate a smooth admission process if their young patients need to be hospitalized.
"We try not to admit patients unless it is necessary," said Dr. Arguello. Children treated at the Emergency Department may receive follow-up care from community pediatricians and pediatric specialists, including the experts at Danbury Hospital's Children's Health and Wellness Center.
Children requiring inpatient services stay in the eight-bed pediatric unit, which offers 24-hour coverage with a team that includes pediatric mid-level providers. In addition, pediatricians with patients they know need to be hospitalized - to receive intravenous medicine, for example - can bypass the Emergency Department and contact the Pediatric Department to ease the admission. "We want to make the process as simple as possible," said Dr. Arguello.
Critically ill children will continue to be treated in the main Emergency Department area close to crucial medical resources, said Martin. Young patients who require more intensive care will be easily and safely transferred to area tertiary medical centers when necessary.
A Generous Community Stands Up for Children
In the coming months, hospital officials will continue fine-tuning the design of the pediatric quarters made possible by the generosity of donors such as Gregory D. Smith.
"The support has been tremendous," said Dr. Broderick. "People recognize that Danbury Hospital is the safety net provider for every segment of the community. Now we'll have a dedicated pediatric emergency area that children can call their own."
WCHN's Imagine Build Transform Campaign and Donor Challenge
This is one of the most exciting periods of growth and innovation for Western Connecticut Health Network. An unnamed donor, who has already given $10 million to the Network, has challenged the WCHN Foundation to reach the $50 million fundraising goal for it's Imagine Build Transform campaign. The donor will give another $20 million if that goal is achieved. The $1 million donated by Gregory D. Smith is a big step toward the Foundation's goal.
The Imagine Build Transform campaign is focusing on raising funds for a new Patient Tower, an expanded Emergency Department with Level II trauma designation, and an advanced Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Danbury Hospital; as well as the Emergency Department at New Milford Hospital, and the Network's cutting edge Biomedical Research Institute.
About Western Connecticut Health Network
Western Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered health care organization serving residents of Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. As a University teaching organization, WCHN is anchored by two nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital. WCHN offers a full continuum of care through its system of affiliated organizations that provide innovative preventative, primary and specialty care as well as home care.
For more information, visit WesternConnecticutHealthNetwork.org, DanburyHospital.org; NewMilfordHospital.org and share your comments with us at Facebook.com/DanburyHospital or Facebook.com/NewMilfordHospital.