OHSU Doernbecher Opens 24-Hour, Kids-Only Emergency Department

03/04/09  Portland, Ore.

Newly renovated facility is uniquely designed to help decrease anxiety, make patients and families feel more comfortable

OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital now has a dedicated, kids-only Emergency Department (ED) with specially trained emergency medicine physicians and pediatric emergency nurses available 24 hours a day.

“Pediatric patients are not just small adults. They require specially trained staff to provide the appropriate care using child-sized equipment in a child-friendly environment,” explained David Spiro, M.D., head of pediatric emergency medicine and director of the OHSU Doernbecher ED. “When children with an acute illness or complications from chronic diseases like cancer or cystic fibrosis need emergency care, they should be treated in a dedicated, pediatrics-only facility that’s staffed by pediatric emergency medicine specialists.”

Thanks to the generosity of donors – including a leadership gift from the Friends of Doernbecher organization – the new OHSU Doernbecher ED is double its previous size, with 11 flexible examination rooms fully equipped to treat everything from traumatic injuries to stitches to sedation. It features a separate, enclosed waiting area for children and their families, with kid-friendly amusements, including a video game console, art niches and a big-screen TV.

Amy Brinkley, of Milwaukie, Ore., is a big believer in children’s hospitals. When her 9-year-old son, Eric, needed emergency care, she drove straight to the OHSU Doernbecher ED. “A pediatric hospital makes all the difference,” Brinkley explained. “Eric was in extreme pain and fear, and the doctors and nurses knew just what to do. We didn’t have to wait. We were seen right away. Now when my son sees Doernbecher, he says, ‘That’s my hospital.’”

The OHSU Doernbecher ED houses the state’s only dedicated pediatric emergency observation unit, so if a child needs to be watched a little longer, they can remain overnight in the same room without having to be admitted to the hospital. Family members are provided sleeper chairs so they can rest comfortably next to their child.

The new ED also is designed to help educate the next generation of pediatric emergency medicine professionals. It features a new simulation lab with highly sophisticated audio and visual equipment that can beam, in real time, what’s happening in the ED to an auditorium in OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, where physicians- and nurses-in-training can observe and learn. The lab also can record events in real time for later study.

Most hospitals throughout the region mix sick and injured kids with adults in the same emergency room, which is not in the best interest of the children, according to Spiro. That’s why he and the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation have worked in earnest over the last few years to make the dream of a standalone pediatric ED at OHSU Doernbecher a reality.

“One of the most extraordinary aspects of the new Emergency Department is that it was made possible entirely through the generosity of our donors,” said Sue Nicol, executive director of the Doernbecher Foundation. “From the hospital’s origins back in the 1920s, this community has always stepped up to provide Doernbecher patients with the best possible care. Thanks to incredible supporters like the Friends of Doernbecher and the other supporters who made this extraordinary facility possible, that proud tradition of support is still alive and well.”

About OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital

OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital is a world-class facility that ear year cares for tens of thousands of children from Oregon, southwest Washington and around the nation, including national and international referrals for speciality care. Children have access to a full range of pediatric care, not just treatments for serious illness or injury, resulting in more than 120,000 outpatient visits, discharges, surgeries and pediatric transports annually.

In addition, nationally recognized physicians ensure that children receive exceptional care at OHSU Doernbecher, including outstanding cancer treatment, specialized neurology care and highly sophisticated heart surgery in the most patient- and family-centered environment. Pediatric experts from OHSU Doernbecher travel throughout Oregon and southwest Washington to provide specialty care to some 2,800 children at more than 154 outreach clinics in 13 locations.