by Jason P. Smith
Good Samaritan Medical Center recently opened a colorful addition to its emergency department. The new nine-bed unit is called Kids Trek and it’s geared towards making late night visits to the emergency room easier for both kids and their parents.
According to Sharon Burnette, director of communications and marketing at Good Samaritan Medical Center, Kids Trek was not part of the original plans for the hospital, but has worked out well for the hospital and the community.
"This area is actually what’s called the Fast Track area of the emergency department and that’s how they were using it," Burnette said. "But, what we found out from surveying some of our community folks and community physicians is that people needed an after-hours option, because immediate care centers don’t offer all the options."
There are plans for expansion of the emergency department down the road as the population in the surrounding area increases, Burnette said.
Since opening its doors in February, the hospital has seen about a 20-25 percent increase in pediatric patients after hours, Burnette said.
"We are more busy on the weekends because physician offices are closed."
Based on studies related to pediatric emergency room visits, Kids Trek is open seven days a week between the hours of 4 p.m. and 2 a.m., as those are the times that were most needed in the studies.
"The one nice thing that we bring here is that you can come in and be seen by a pediatrician. You also have access to everything that the hospital offers," Burnette said.
"So, if you need an X-ray or lab work you don’t have to ship them off to some place else – we can do it all right here.
"It’s sort of a one-stop shop when you have the emergent need for a child."
Kids Trek, which is painted from floor to ceiling with different themes in each room, is staffed with three pediatricians and overseen by Dr. Margaret A. Ferguson, the medical director of pediatric services at Good Samaritan.
"Before we opened, people would either wait until the next day or go to urgent care and have the experience of then possibly having to go to a hospital after the fact," Burnette said. "We still have a full service emergency department here, but people weren’t getting that specialized care with a pediatrician."
According to Burnette, the transition was a smooth one in the emergency department.
"We were fortunate that many of our emergency department nurses were also pediatric trained and really wanted to work in this area, so it worked out really well," she said.
"We didn’t have to hire a lot of additional staff to support this new program because we already had existing nurses with an interest in pediatrics – we have a really good team in the emergency department."
The increase in patient visits has resulted in a positive response from the community, according to Burnette.
"People are happy with the care they received," she said. "It’s pretty powerful for both the parents and the kids. They just have a better experience and they’re not quite so stressed and upset that they’re here in the emergency department."