New program improves emergency care for children

Two area hospitals are joining a statewide effort to ensure children who need emergency care go to the right place in time, the first time.

Through the Emergency Medical Services for Children, or EMSC, State Partnership, Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine are working alongside some of the largest children's hospitals in the state to create the Pediatric Facility Recognition program.

The program, which hospitals can voluntarily opt into, will categorize hospitals by their abilities to care for pediatric patients. It will provide data that shows where children can be treated for specific emergency, critical, and trauma care throughout the state, said Dr. Menish Shah, EMSC program director.

"Each hospital has different capabilities to care for these things," he said. "Some can do all, some can do [a] few and some can do none."

Jared Cosper, director of Emergency Medical Services at Montgomery County Hospital District No. 2, said the EMSC program will be critical in helping communicate the care that will be offered at hospitals in The Woodlands, such as the planned Texas Children's Hospital, to its residents who live in The Woodlands area as well as residents who live around the state.

The program will also help improve the process of caring for children by connecting multiple people and organizations, he said.

"The biggest thing is that it's a better partnership with better communication between the different facilities," he said. "It just comes down to a better network for kids."

Glenda Grawe, director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine Community Disaster Preparedness and Response at Texas Children's Hospital, said families in The Woodlands do not have to go far for minor pediatric emergency care.

"We have a good spectrum of availability in The Woodlands," she said.

Texas Children's Hospital's presence in The Woodlands consists of six beds dedicated to pediatric emergencies housed in the emergency room of St. Luke's Woodlands Hospital.

Looking ahead, Texas Children's plans to build a hospital in The Woodlands along I-45 south of Hwy. 242. The new facility is scheduled to open in 2017. Patients with more serious emergencies, however, are taken to the Medical Center since The Woodlands Texas Children's location does not have all types of specialists, Grawe said.

A pediatric recognition program is beneficial to children and families because it will allow hospitals to save time and be more accurate when a transfer is needed, Shah said.

"Sometimes a child is transferred more than once before they get to a place that can help them," he said. "[The program] will prevent a secondary transfer."

The program will also serve as a resource for parents, he said.

"If you're a parent, you may not always know the capabilities of the hospitals in your area," he said.

Cosper said his team must keep abreast of the area hospital's capabilities in order to know where to take patients for specific issues. Cosper said there is one pediatric amenity that is unavailable in The Woodlands.

"There's not a Pediatric ICU in Montgomery County," he said. "That's the only problem we have."

Children who need intensive care must be transported to the Medical Center, he said.

That will likely change in a few years when Texas Children's Hospital opens.

Shah said the program is discussing the concept on a statewide level with stakeholder organizations and has received several key endorsements.


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