Huntsville Pediatric ER vs Summer Accidents

Our family owns three of those giant first-aid kits – one for both cars, one for the house, and I keep a little one in my purse at all times.

You know you’re the parent of boys when one of the first things you do when you leave town for vacation is to take note of where the closest Emergency Room is located. Since our first ER visit when my oldest son was four, our family has visited the hospital or Urgent Care Center no less than four times, and in three different cities. And my boys are only six and eight!

You know you’re the parent of boys when one of the first things you do when you leave town for vacation is to take note of where the closest Emergency Room is located.

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Before you think about questioning my parenting skills, consider the facts – summertime means tons of fun for your kids outside. There are 14 hours of sunlight in any given summer day, and kids aren’t in a carefully controlled school environment. Emergency rooms report 18% more traffic in May through August, when children are outside running, climbing, riding, and swimming.

Lucky for us, Huntsville Hospital has a special Pediatric ER for when those unfortunate summer accidents happen. Very different from a standard hospital emergency room, Huntsville Hospital’s Pediatric ER is located on the east side of the campus, and is literally custom-made with the smallest of patients in mind. As the only child-focused facility between Birmingham and Nashville, everything from the specially-trained staff, to pain management, and kid-sized medical equipment is there. Having sampled a variety of ER’s and Urgent Cares, I can say there is no other place I’d rather take my child in the event of a summer emergency.

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So what makes this place so special?

  • Pediatric trained staff and physicians
  • Innovative techniques used to alleviate fear, anxiety and pain in children
  • Investment in medical equipment and technology that is designed and built specifically for pediatric patients

Last sumer my oldest son had a minor water park accident that required some… er, extraction help from his big toenail. It wasn’t pretty and he was hysterical. When we arrived at the Pediatric ER there was no waiting. After assessing the situation the nurse appeared with a popsicle for him and his brother, a treat that served a dual purpose: calming him and quieting him down. A few minutes later the doctor came in, numbed the area with a topical cream, and went to work on his toe. The whole experience took 45 minutes and he even got to ride in a pint-sized wheelchair to the car!

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Popsicles are in every nurse's bag of tricks here!
Popsicles are in every nurse’s bag of tricks here!

Other ways a pediatric ER is better for kids than a standard ER or Urgent Care:

Reducing fear and anxiety

  • Staff-wide culture of taking care of the physical and emotional needs in a setting where everyone and everything is focused on treating kids
  • Dedicated Child Life Specialist trained to help patients cope with fear and anxiety
  • Family-centered care – parent/guardian encouraged to participate in treatment decisions

Rapid Medical Assessment (RMA)

  • Patients with minor complaints as determined by pediatric physicians and nurses receive care using a special protocol X Rays, testing for flu, strep, etc.
  • Dedicated treatment rooms near the waiting area
  • Faster for the patient with less exposure to more seriously ill or injured patients

Facility and kid-friendly medical equipment

  • MRI and other imaging services just steps away from treatment rooms
  • Cinemavision MRI patient video and audio system (kids get to watch movies during scan) Vecta System, innovative all-in-one mobile equipment used to sooth, distract and entertain pediatric patients with fiber-optic lights, bubbles, music and aromatherapy (very effective for children on the autism spectrum)
  • iPad for teaching patients about procedures they will undergo
  • Facility
  • Kid-friendly décor
  • Waiting areas feature games, activities and an aquarium

So stock up on sunscreen, fill your days with summer fun, and stay safe, Rocket City Families. And if you happen to need them, know that the superheroes of Huntsville Hospital’s Pediatric ER are there.