American Family Children's Hospital

New Pediatric Emergency Medicine Program

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UW Health pediatric emergency physician Michael Kim, MDMADISON – Children are not merely small adults. They require medical care catered to their individual needs and their physical, emotional and social development.

Michael Kim, MD, (pictured) has devoted his professional life to furthering that philosophy. An associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH), Dr. Kim has come to Madison to launch the pediatric emergency medicine program at American Family Children's Hospital.

His goal is to build a program with a regional and national reputation for providing comprehensive and appropriate care to children with emergent medical needs.

"Children require a completely different knowledge base and style," Dr. Kim says. "The same approach is not going to work with a 2-year-old toddler and a 16-year-old adolescent. We need to be able to accommodate the needs of those different age groups and be savvy enough to understand them and provide care that's age-specific."

Dr. Kim is trained to do just that.

To be certified in pediatric emergency medicine, physicians must complete a three-year fellowship training program. Dr. Kim is the only Madison-based physician with such training, which he says has prepared him for the demands of his program.

"Special training in pediatrics does make a difference," he says. "Kids are a special group of patients. Unlike adult patients, most children will be accompanied by family. You're not only taking care of the child but the family as well. We really push family-centered care. We need to be able to train the family to take care of the kid.”

One of the ways to keep the needs of children at the fore is hiring qualified personnel to serve them. Dr. Kim hopes to add two more pediatric emergency physicians by July 2008, and he emphasizes the importance of Child Life specialists Amanda Sheeded and Lisa Peck to his program.

Child Life specialists help patients cope with hospitalization, diagnosis and treatment by using play, procedure preparation and support, and other elements of distraction to promote a positive hospital experience and maintain a sense of normality. They are calm, supportive voices in difficult situations, and Dr. Kim says their skills are particularly well-suited to the demands of emergency medicine.

"A car wreck is not a scheduled event," he says. "The emergency department can be stressful because of the unknowns. Child Life provides support so patients experience less distress during the emergency department visit."

"There are never two situations that are the same," Peck says. "We take all the information in – their age, why they're there – and provide age-appropriate explanations of what their experience is going to be."

Shedeed says that familiarity leads to a more comfortable patient experience.

"A lot of times this is their first time in the hospital, so there are a lot of unknowns," she says. "We often times use teaching tools or medical play to help make these unknowns more familiar. When children are admitted from the Emergency Department it can be an added stress for them and their families. The kids feel a lot better when they find out it's a special place made just for them."

Though he has been on the job for only two months, Dr. Kim has hit the ground running. He plans to introduce his concept of care to as many area primary care physicians as possible, and points to the recent creation of a state-of-the-art emergency department at UW Hospital as well as SMPH's emergency medicine residency program as evidence of UW Health's commitment to the emergency medicine cause.

"And that's been followed by the opening of American Family Children's Hospital, which is phenomenal," he says. "Every corner of the building represents dedication to sick kids. It takes a combination of effort, vision and leadership to be able to come up with a program of this nature. I'm really proud to be part of this institution."

Date Published: 02/29/2008

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