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Pediatric Friendly ER aims to provide 'ouchless' experience for kids

Ouchless ER

West Wichita's only full-service hospital and ER now has a new distinction — the city's only Pediatric Friendly ER for kids.

Ascension Via Christi St. Teresa, at 14800 W. St. Teresa, is host to a variety of child-friendly amenities that will both improve patients' experiences and provide a more "ouchless" environment in the ER.

A $50,000 grant to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Ascension Via Christi from Credit Union of America paid for the creation of the original Kansas-themed murals that now provide visual distraction in the special kids’ area of the waiting room and as well as in the hospital’s two dedicated pediatric exam rooms.

It also paid for a fixed iPad station with educational games and activities in the waiting area plus two iPad carts that can be brought into the exam rooms to keep pediatric patients and their siblings entertained.

“But more importantly, it helped fund the equipment and training needed to launch new methods of care delivery designed to create a more ‘ouchless’  ER environment for kids,” said James Vayda, MD, the assistant medical director for Via Christi’s Wichita-area Emergency Department who led the committee.

Those include using:

  • A special needle-free syringe device to insert buffered Lidocaine under the skin when doing needle-stick procedures.
  • Comfort holds so that examinations and procedures can be completed without having to physically restrain or traumatize the child.
  • The One Voice method, in which one parent or staff member is designated to soothe or explain what’s happening rather than having multiple people try to do so, which can confuse and overwhelm a child.

Additionally, once all staff have been trained, the ER will begin using nitrous oxide as a mode of minimal, or conscious, sedation for procedures that can be painful or distressing to children such as stitches and setting broken bones.

“We’ve always been family friendly and provided timely service,” said Jacob Reed, DO, medical director for the St. Teresa ER, which since the hospital’s opening in August 2010 has recorded more than 80,000 visits. “This just builds on that.”

'Gentle and effective' care

It’s an investment that Bob Thurman, CUA’s chief executive officer, called a “trifecta” for his organization, which started as a credit union for teachers and later expanded into healthcare. 

“We’re all about education, healthcare and kids, so this is a project that was a great fit for us,” said Thurman, whose organization has donated to date more than $400,000 to CMNH, which continues to raise money for sick and injured children being cared for in Via Christi’s hospitals and clinics.

While pediatrician Amy Seery, MD, who serves as the Pediatrics section chair for Via Christi’s Wichita hospitals, says she loves the remodeled space and more welcoming feel for children, “I am most excited about this enhanced recognition that care can and should be both gentle and effective.” 

The effort to go “ouchless” in the ER will be expanded to Via Christi’s other hospitals and ultimately to Via Christi’s outpatient clinics, which provide care to more children than any other Wichita-area healthcare provider.

“We probably touch the lives of more children in our Emergency Rooms than in any other part of our integrated healthcare system,” said pediatrician Philip Newlin, MD, who serves as medical director for Via Christi’s Women’s and Children’s Service Line. “So as we work to make our environment more pediatric friendly, we thought the ER was a great place to start.”

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.