Susan McWhirter, chief of staff at The Medical Center in Columbus, said Tuesday that an emergency room can be a scary place for anyone but it is especially so for a child.
She said the hospital's new pediatric emergency department which opens for business Wednesday at 7 a.m. will be kid friendly not just because of the colorful decor but because its entire staff has been specially trained in the care and treatment of children.
"In this environment, kids will feel safer than one in which they are surrounded by adults who are sick or injured," McWhirter, a pediatrician, said. "The quality of care for the children will be the best."
McWhirter was one of about 100 people attending a function at the hospital Tuesday celebrating the opening of the department, construction of which began in November.
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The pediatric emergency department, which will be open 7 a.m. - 11 p.m. seven days a week, is a $3 million project. Aflac President Paul S. Amos II and his wife Courtney Amos donated $1.5 million to the project in honor of Columbus pediatrician Kathryn Cheek.
"It is an incredibly generous gift. I am humbled by it," hospital CEO Ryan Chandler said.
The acting medical director for the department will be pediatrician David Goo.
The department is 5,080 square feet of space in a place previously used for rehabilitation. It is directly adjacent to the emergency and trauma center and contains a back door connecting it to imaging and trauma services within the center.
The emergency and trauma center gets approximately 10,000 pediatric visits per year.
In the new department, there is a medical screening exam room and seven treatment rooms. New and specialized equipment includes specific fluid infusers for child IV therapy, pediatric respiratory equipment, a transilluminator to help find smaller and hard-to-find veins, a low dose CT machine approved for pediatric use and cardiac monitors in each room.
Specialized physicians available to treat patients are a pediatric gastroenterologist, pediatric cardiologist, pediatric neurologist, pediatric opthalmologist, pediatric endocrinologist, pediatric oncologist and pediatric radiologist.
Chief of Pediatrics Joseph Zanga said the opening of the new department is the "beginning of something special." He said it is a place that will provide wonderful medical care for the "sickest and most seriously injured children" within 100 miles of Columbus.
"Children and adolescents make up 25 percent of our population but 100 percent of our future," Zanga said.
Cheek said that families who come into the department with an serious injury or a fever will have their "lives transformed forever."
Not only will the quality of care for children improve but so should the efficiency according to McWhirter.
"Children will be attended to quicker," she said.