By Janice Lane Palko
No parent relishes having to take their child to the Emergency Department or admit them into the hospital, but if you need to, you want to be sure your child is receiving the utmost care in a state-of-the-art setting.
With the expansion of pediatric services this fall, now parents in the northern communities of Pittsburgh have that care at AHN Wexford Hospital.
“We provide cutting-edge medical care in a family- and child-friendly setting,” said Evelina Krieger, MD, Director of Pediatric Hospital Medicine, Allegheny Health Network. “On staff, we have five full-time Pediatric Hospitalists, who provide care 24-7, year-round,” said Dr. Krieger. She explained that a Pediatric Hospitalist is a sub-specialty where doctors only see children in a hospital setting. She did a Fellowship in that sub-specialty, and Dr. Krieger says they are able to treat common pediatric illnesses, asthma, pneumonia, dehydration and sports injuries, and they can also provide IV antibiotics and oxygen.
“In addition to adding pediatric hospitalists, we supplemented our team with a team of nurses experienced in pediatrics,” said Karla Persia, MSN, RN, Nurse Manager, Pediatrics, who said they treat children from newborn to 18 years.
All rooms at AHN are private rooms. Pediatric patients who require an overnight stay, whether from orthopaedics, ENT or as the result of a visit to the emergency room, AHN Wexford is prepared to accommodate pediatric needs. The hospital accommodates two surgical lines – Orthopaedics and ENT as well as being able to admit patients directly from the Emergency Department.
“The Emergency Department is geared to treating children and is very competent at placing pediatric IVs, and we have a Child Life Specialist on staff as well to facilitate that your child has the best treatment and experience while here,” said Ms. Persia.
Children can be admitted either through the Emergency Department or by their own pediatrician requesting admittance.
“We follow best practices for children and go the extra mile. For example, we have a separate procedure room for things like inserting IVs, so that the child feels secure and doesn’t have painful treatments in their room. Their room is their safe space in the hospital,” said Ms. Persia. “We provide individual refrigerators in the room for breast-feeding mothers to store their milk for cases where this need arises.”
The entire space has been designed and planned with purpose. Nearby is a playroom, and a Physical and Occupational Therapy gym. The space also offers the Make Room for Kids program, an extension of the Lemieux Foundation’s Austin’s Playroom Project. This gives patients access to gaming and other multimedia resources during their hospital stay.
Everything has been taken into consideration, even the food. “We have a pediatric menu and can accommodate special diets, among them vegan, kosher, gluten-free as well as allergy-free items,” said Ms. Persia.
AHN Wexford Hospital also has a Neurodivergent Adaptive Care Program. “It is estimated that 15% of kids have some neurodivergence, and we can make notes in the child’s EPIC file to address that and offer decreased stimulation or increased—whatever the child needs,” said Dr. Krieger.
“We have a four-foot lighted bubble tube with fiber optic lights that helps to distract and calm the children,” said Ms. Persia. “We are so proud of this space and the care we provide.”
Even the smallest detail has been taken into consideration. “Children can even select the art for their room, and parents can stay in the private room during their child’s entire stay,” said Dr. Krieger.
“With a Pediatric Hospitalist on staff providing personalized, one-on-one care, the reactions we are hearing from parents is that they have never had so much time with a doctor,” said Dr. Krieger. “The care we are providing exceeds all expectation.”
For more information about AHN Wexford Hospital, visit the website at: www.ahn.org/locations/hospitals/wexford