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New Pediatric Emergency Department Offers a Customized Environment for Children’s Health Needs

July 22, 2020
Felicity Mijares

Sickle cell anemia is a heavy burden for a 7-year-old child. Three or four times a year, when Keith Frost, Jr.’s pain becomes impossible for his grandmother, Saundra Clark, to manage at home, she brings him to Good Samaritan Hospital’s Emergency Department. Sometimes he is treated there; other times, he is admitted to the hospital’s inpatient pediatric unit for three or four days, where he receives the pain treatment he needs.

“Initially it bothered him to go hospital,” Ms. Clark said. But now, “He understands that it is the best place to get the care he needs.”

The best place for Keith and the other 22,000 children who receive emergency care at Good Sam each year has just become even better. Good Samaritan is launching a brand-new pediatric emergency department – the only one of its kind in the region - that will offer a specialized environment that caters to children’s medical and emotional needs while providing local parents with peace of mind.

“Good Samaritan has always had the clinical expertise to provide the highest level of care to children, but until now our physical space didn’t match the level of care that we provide,” said Christopher Raio, MD, System Chief, Emergency Medicine.

That clinical expertise in the emergency department includes dedicated physicians who are board-certified in pediatric emergency medicine, pediatrics or emergency medicine, as well as nurses who are specially trained in pediatric triage and certified in Emergency Pediatric Nursing.

Good Samaritan is the only certified Level 2 Pediatric Trauma Center on the south Shore, and its medical staff includes pediatric surgeons and a full range of subspecialists to provide advanced care for a wide range of medical issues in children. The staff also includes Child Life specialists who are trained to help children cope with the stress of pain and illness. The hospital is also home to the region’s only pediatric intensive care unit.

“All of these resources mean we can handle any pediatric emergency that comes through the door,” said Dr. Raio.

The new pediatric emergency department provides a specialized space created just for young patients.  There are 12 private treatment bays, and all necessary diagnostic and monitoring equipment, such as new pediatric cardiac monitors and point-of-care ultrasound equipment, to accommodate children’s special needs.

The facility was the first in Good Samaritan’s history to be built using off-site, modular construction. This was done to minimize the disruption of construction to hospital patients and the surrounding community. It is located at the south end of the existing emergency department, easily accessible by ambulances.

Enhancing the physical space is a bright, child-friendly décor that creates a soothing and comforting environment not only for youngsters, but for their parents and guardians as well.

While the facility had been planned for some time, the coronavirus pandemic led hospital administrators to accelerate the timetable for completing the project.

“Once the pandemic hit, it created an even bigger need to have private, dedicated rooms for children who need emergency care, so the project was sped up,” said Dr. Raio.

Four-year-old Felicity Mijares cannot remember the details of her experience at Good Samaritan’s Emergency Department, but her parents will never forget it. Two years ago, they brought their two-year-old daughter to the hospital with a high fever. Initially, doctors suspected a urinary tract infection, but they soon discovered that Felicity had dangerously low levels of hemoglobin and required an immediate blood transfusion. Follow-up evaluation at Good Samaritan’s outpatient Center for Pediatric Specialty Care revealed that she was not absorbing iron from her diet. She was successfully treated and today is a thriving future Disney princess, according to her father, Jorge Mijares.

So touched was he by the care she received during her four-day hospital stay that he has launched a drive to donate 500 individually packaged art bundles for hospitalized children around Long Island.

“I remember vividly the sounds I heard the night we were in the emergency room with Felicity,” Mr. Mijares said. “For children who don’t understand, it can be scary to hear other kids crying or alarms going off. Children hear the sounds and become anxious, and you as a parent get anxious. The new facility will make a big difference.”

For Keith Frost, Jr., who has lived with his grandmother since his mom passed away in 2017, hospital visits have become routine. The next time he visits Good Sam, he will find a special place designed just for him and the other 157,000 children who live in proximity to the hospital. And Ms. Clark, his grandmother, will see further confirmation that Good Sam is truly the best place to help her grandson through his health crises.

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