(Little) Emergencies

Here’s the 411 on where to go for a pediatric 911.

(page 3 of 3)

The comforts

The pediatric ER treatment area has a serene vibe, with its soft blue-and-green palette and walls featuring hand-painted bunnies. Mobile video players, a book cart, popsicles and stickers are available. Volunteers often play games or read books to patients or their siblings.

What to be prepared for

The pediatric ER lobby is also the waiting area for the adult ER and lacks kid-friendly distractions. There’s a TV, but it may be tuned to CNN. It’s a good idea to bring your own diversions.

Holy Cross does not have a pediatric intensive care unit, so critical patients over 3 months of age who require intensive care may be transferred. Also, patients under 13 who require general surgery for, say, appendicitis, may be transferred to Children’s, where there are additional pediatric subspecialists.

Montgomery General Hospital Emergency Services Pediatric Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr., Olney
Number of patients seen  in 2009: 7,200
Number of beds: eight, two of  which are licensed inpatient for  kids who are admitted

The care

Pediatricians man the pediatric ER center 24/7. Currently the doctors don’t have a board-certified specialty in pediatric emergency medicine, but they do have experience in emergency medicine. If a child is critically ill, emergency medicine physicians from the main ER provide support.

There are no dedicated pediatric subspecialists on site at Montgomery General. However, most of the hospital’s regular subspecialists do treat pediatric patients, and the ER doctors consult them when needed.

Last year, Montgomery General’s ER center partnered with Georgetown University Hospital’s pediatric department to help care for children with more complex medical conditions. The partnership provides pediatric subspecialists for phone consultations and includes a one-call transfer process that allows patients to move easily to Georgetown if they require a higher level of care.

The check-in

A volunteer greets families as they walk through the ER doors and directs them to a nurse, who sends urgent cases right back to the treatment area. If a bed is open, even patients with less serious problems will go back immediately for registration and evaluation by a nurse at bedside and to see a doctor. If no rooms are open, a nurse evaluates the patient out front and may start certain tests, such as an X-ray for a child with an injured wrist.

Wait times from door to doctor average less than 18 minutes, according to Dr. Jeremy Graf, director of the pediatric emergency department and a Silver Spring resident. “I think [our waits are short] because we have a unified approach where nurses and doctors work together.”

The comforts

In March, Montgomery General opened a renovated ER jammed with kid comforts. A waiting area, separate from the adult ER waiting area, shields kids from adult cases and provides distractions, such as a play table and a TV tuned to kids’ shows. Treatment rooms feature flat-screen TVs and wall-mounted games, as well as mobile DVD players and mobile PlayStations.

There also are stuffed animals and handmade fleece blankets, as well as popsicles, chocolate milk and kid-friendly meals like chicken nuggets that staff can access for patients.

As at Suburban, children who require extended care remain in the same center, moving to an inpatient room a few steps away.

What to be prepared for

Montgomery General does not have an intensive care unit for kids, so critically ill patients who require intensive care must go elsewhere.

Leah Ariniello is a Bethesda-based writer who has written for The Washington Post and other publications.

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