When the Children's Hospital pediatric emergency department moved into the new Weinberg Building and opened for business last November , it began sharing its space and resources with the adult emergency department, while still retaining its autonomy and warmth.
"Our PED [Pediatric Emergency Department] remains kid and parent friendly," said Richard Lichenstein, M.D., director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at the Medical Center, and associate professor of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine. "The walls are painted in tree and nature motifs and, like our old facility, it has a relaxing atmosphere."
Don't let the murals on the walls fool you, however. The new pediatric ED is right in the middle of the action and fully integrated with the new adult ED. The pediatric staff uses the latest state-of-the-art emergency equipment specifically geared for pediatric patients.
"We have full, diagnostic radiology services, including an intensive stat laboratory and CT scanner right on the premises," Lichenstein said. "We're the hub of all emergency/sub-specialty services, able to coordinate care with our pediatric subspecialists and facilitate evaluation, management and disposition of complicated patients."
The opening of the new pediatric ED kicked off the first phase of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building project. The building, which is located in the 600 block of West Lombard Street next to the Shock Trauma Center, features cutting-edge, innovative operating rooms, facilities for cancer patients and an employee learning center.
The pediatric ED moved from its former location on the first floor of the Medical Center -- where it had been for 15 years -- to the ground floor of the Weinberg Building. Along with the pediatric and adult EDs, the new 45,000 square-foot emergency facility also houses the Psychiatric Urgent Care division.
The new emergency facility has been designed in the shape of a square. Because the adult ED sees the majority of the hospital's emergency traffic (over 40,000 patients a year), their department takes up roughly three-fourths of the square.
The pediatric ED, which sees about 15,000 visitors a year, inhabits one quadrant of the square. And Psychiatric Urgent Care, which helps over 4,000 patients a year with a range of mental health problems, operates just outside of the square, next to the resuscitation area.
Despite its solid, square shape, there is a lot of flexibility built into the facility. At any given time, the pediatric ED may have anywhere from 12 to 16 beds, depending on volume and patients' needs. The area between the adult and pediatric ED is considered "swing" space, and the beds in this area serve dual purposes. They can be used for either pediatric or adult care.
According to Lichenstein, flexibility in emergency situations is extremely valuable.
"There is a seasonality to certain emergencies," he said. "When there is a crunch, you don't want to be tied into a setup that is fixed. We came into the planning process understanding that we would need spaces that could be flexed in, flexed out and closed off, based on patient demand."
Nearly 60,000 patients seek emergency care at the Medical Center every year, and the numbers are growing. In the next couple of years, Lichenstein projects that visits to the pediatric ED could grow from 15,000 a year to 18,000.
The move to the Weinberg Building is helping Psychiatric Urgent Care and both EDs keep up with the growth. Not only does the new facility provide flexibility, it has a fast-track area for patients with less critical emergencies and private rooms.
"All of the pediatric modules have soundproof glass doors with curtains separating them," said Lichenstein. "That way we can reduce the noise [of babies crying, etc.] in the common area, protect patients' privacy and still keep an eye on them through the glass doors."
According to Lichenstein, the new pediatric ED is laid out with a large, centralized nursing station that is surrounded by several, mini-work stations. These mini-work stations help the staff care for patients more efficiently.
"I was a little sad to leave our old location just because there are so many nice memories tied to that place," said Lichenstein. "But the new ED has all of the things we want. The new space links us to our adult counterparts in emergency medicine, while allowing us to keep our pediatric identity and focus."