Pediatric Champions: Advocating for Kids in the Emergency Department
Specialized emergency care for children continues to be a focus of the Emergency Department (ED) at UW Hospital and Clinics.
Pediatric-focused emergency care started in 2006 when the current emergency department opened with a family-friendly waiting area, including dedicated patient rooms for children. This emphasis expanded as UW Health prepared for the opening of the American Family Children's Hospital, bringing more pediatric patients to UW.
"We know that taking care of kids is very different from taking care of adults," says Michael Kim, MD, director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at UW Hospital and Clinics. "Ours is the only hospital in the region with specially trained pediatric emergency medicine physicians."
In early 2008, the first Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinator (PECC) was hired. The PECC works to ensure the staff is ready to take care of any child presented to our ED. In the past year, Mary Jean Erschen joined the UW Hospital ED team as the PECC.
Erschen, who came to UW Hospital from The Children's Hospital of Denver, leads a team of "Pediatric Champions" - a group of nurses, techs, social work family advocates, and other staff dedicated to giving kids the most positive emergency care experience possible. Each nurse is required to be certified in the Emergency Nurse Pediatric Course (ENPC) and have PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) certification.
"There are more than 30 Pediatric Champions who are really in tune to the needs of children," says Erschen. "They identify areas where we can improve care for kids in the ED, and have been strong advocates to improve systems of pediatric emergency care."
Members of this dedicated team are working collaboratively with administration and staff from American Family Children's Hospital to streamline care given to children who need admission to the Pediatric Intensive Care or Inpatient Units.
Pediatric Champions work closely with American Family Children's Hospital's Child Life staff to provide age-appropriate resources to assure that both the patient and family are comfortable. Sometimes it's as simple as creating a distraction during a procedure.
Due in part to the Pediatric Champions, UW Hospital's ED also exceeds the guidelines for pediatric emergency care outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics in October 2009. This group of staff is also sharing its knowledge and skills beyond the UW Hospital ED. Nursing staff participate as instructors of the Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course (ENPC), offered through the UW Health Emergency Education Center, and have assisted regional hospitals and EMS Services in improving their approach to caring for pediatric emergency patients.