Easing a Child's Visit to the Emergency Department

Children visiting Greenwich Hospital’s Emergency Department now have access to the most advanced pediatric emergency services in the region.

If your child suffers any serious, unexpected injury or illness, he or she might end up in the Emergency Department at Greenwich Hospital – which is now even better prepared to ease children’s pain.

That’s because Greenwich Hospital has teamed up with pediatric emergency medicine physicians at the renowned Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital (YNHCH) to provide the most advanced pediatric emergency services in the area. Children visiting Greenwich Hospital’s Emergency Department now have access to the most advanced pediatric emergency services in the region.

“We’ve always taken care of every emergency patient, regardless of age,” said Christopher Davison, MD, medical director of Greenwich Hospital’s Emergency Department. Nearly 25 percent of the roughly 40,000 patients treated in the department each year are children and adolescents under the age of 18.

“What’s new is that specially trained pediatric emergency medicine physicians from Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Department now come to Greenwich to provide an additional skill level and coverage to our department,” Dr. Davison said.

Karen Santucci, MD, and Christopher Davison, MD, work together to treat pediatric patients at Greenwich Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Specialized care for children

While Greenwich Hospital’s existing, full-time staff of board-certified emergency medicine physicians continues to see all patients in the Emergency Department, the specialists from Yale are working to cover 4 pm - 8 am. “Those are the hours when most local pediatricians’ offices are closed, and when parents are often home from work and can bring their children here,” Dr. Davison explained.

Another advantage, said Dr. Davison, is the increased in-house nighttime coverage by the Yale specialists for young patients who have already been admitted to Greenwich Hospital’s dedicated pediatric unit. “That’s a huge boost to our community pediatricians, knowing their patients are cared for 24/7,” he said. “It also gives families confidence that there’s a pediatric provider here.”

This expansion of pediatric services dovetails with the recent multimillion-dollar improvements and renovations throughout the Emergency Department. A separate pediatric waiting room – featuring a virtual fish tank and other kid-friendly decor, child-size furniture and ageappropriate books, TV programming and interactive media – helps to make a child’s visit less stressful. Three new rooms are exclusively designed for treating Greenwich Hospital’s young patients. Children with less serious bumps, bruises, cuts and sprains can be cared for in one of the new “fast track” rooms.

“Now the majority of kids can get right in and out, avoiding the general Emergency Department,” Dr. Davison said.

Karolina Maksimowski, MD, treats children and teens, who comprise one-quarter of all Greenwich Hospital Emergency Department visits each year.

Partnership enhances care

Collaborating with Dr. Davison on the development of this innovative program is Karen Santucci, MD, section chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. YNHCH is nationally ranked in eight specialties by U.S. News & World Report, the highest in Connecticut and among the highest ranked in the nation. “Parents have peace of mind with the added level of support and expertise that our pediatric emergency medicine physicians bring to Greenwich Hospital,” she said.

Physicians trained in general emergency medicine possess unique skills, yet those who concentrate solely on pediatric patients have a distinct focus and background. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatric emergency physicians are medical doctors with at least four years of medical school education, three or more years of residency training in either pediatrics or emergency medicine, and at least two years of fellowship training in pediatric emergency medicine. They are certified by either the American Board of Pediatrics or the American Board of Emergency Medicine as specialists in pediatric emergency medicine.

Pediatric emergency physicians have experience in diagnosing and treating infants, children, teens and young adults. Major emergencies include fractures, head injuries, burns and conditions resulting from motor vehicle crashes, falls or other incidents. They also provide care for acute medical problems, such as high or persistent fever, serious infections, difficulty breathing, severe pain, dehydration, seizures and allergic reactions, as well as poisonings and overdoses. These physicians know how to establish an instant rapport with kids, providing assurance they’re in a safe, friendly place where the doctors understand what they’re going through.

Families who come to Greenwich Hospital’s Emergency Department use a waiting room dedicated exclusively for children and adolescents

Trusted resource for children

Dr. Santucci, who is board certified in pediatric emergency medicine, not only takes shifts at Greenwich Hospital herself, but has been instrumental in educating the Emergency Department’s nurses and other staff on how to treat, engage with and become a trusted resource for children. “Our goal is to take the emergency care model we’ve established at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital and together weave it into Greenwich Hospital’s Emergency Department,” she said.

Further enhancing Greenwich Hospital’s emergency services, patients have access to YNHCH’s Pediatric Specialty Center, conveniently located on Greenwich Hospital’s second floor. YNHCH’s pediatric specialists see patients at the Center, providing access to nationally ranked pediatric specialties, including orthopedics, endocrinology, urology, cardiology, pulmonology, oncology, surgery and mental health.

The collegial sharing of knowledge, expertise and experience among these two medical institutions is an added benefit of being part of Yale New Haven Health. In this instance, the pediatric specialists at either hospital can log onto Epic, the jointly used electronic medical records system, to quickly obtain the complete history on a specific patient and make instant updates regarding treatments, medications and other critical data.

The expansion of pediatric emergency services at Greenwich Hospital is already seen as a benefit to the community. “The feedback we’ve received from patients and their families has been fantastic,” Dr. Davison said. “It’s been a positive experience for everyone involved.”