Hospitalists enhance pediatric care at Calvert Memorial Hospital

Friday, Feb. 23, 2007

Click here to enlarge this photo
Photo Courtesy of Calvert Memorial Hospital
Pediatric hospitalist Dr. Lucinda Elder talks with Joshua Wright and his mother, Heather.

This month visitors will notice a lot of new faces on the medical-surgical⁄pediatric unit at Calvert Memorial Hospital. They are part of the new pediatric hospitalist team at CMH. Their role is to provide round-the-clock coverage for sick children who are admitted.

‘‘The program is an exciting new addition to pediatric care at CMH,” said Jim Xinis, president and CEO, ‘‘because it means that fewer children may need to be transferred to other hospitals.”

In 2006, the pediatric unit at Calvert Memorial Hospital cared for 160 children. Most often, they were treated for asthma, pneumonia, gastrointestinal upsets that caused nausea and diarrhea or were recovering from appendectomies or orthopedic procedures.

‘‘Our hope is that we will be able to keep more children here,” said Ellen Bertelsen, registered nurse and director Level 3, ‘‘now that we have immediate access to a pediatrician 24⁄7.” This will be a great advantage for parents who have other children at home, she said, to avoid the need for distant travel to another facility.

‘‘Equally important,” said Xinis, ‘‘is that they will be available during emergency deliveries and cesarean sections. This is a huge benefit for the mothers who use our Family Birth Center.”

‘‘Expectant parents will find it reassuring to know that the hospitalists are here whenever needed to take care of their newborn,” he said. ‘‘They will also make daily rounds and see infants who do not have a local pediatrician.”

The hospitalists are board-certified pediatricians who specialize in the care of children who are admitted to the hospital. They are fully trained in pediatrics with an emphasis on the care of acutely ill children.

They are on hand, seven days a week and are available anywhere in the hospital when a child needs care. They work with families, nursing staff, other doctors and pediatricians to coordinate the care of each child.

Xinis said the hospitalists work closely with referring pediatricians to make sure they are kept up-to-date. Once a child is discharged and they go home, care is taken over by his or her pediatrician or family practice doctor.

The pediatric hospitalist team includes Dr. Edwin Aguilar, Dr. Lucinda Elder, Dr. Sayeed Farooqui, Dr. Meena Poddar, Dr. Sunday Uchella, Dr. James Vitek and Dr. Yaacov Zamel. The team leader is Dr. Susan Lovich. Four members of the CMH active medical staff have also been approved for pediatric hospitalist privileges. They are Dr. Sadashvaiah Bhaskar, Dr. Bhargesh Mehta, Dr. Manbir Singh and Dr. Michael Skolnick.

Hospitalists provide many benefits to patients and their families, said Lovich. The patient sees the doctor as often as needed. More timely care is available because the hospitalists are based at CMH and can adjust treatment or follow up on the spot. Additionally, they are available throughout the day to speak with family members to explain procedures and test results.

Hospitalists have been caring for adult patients at CMH since 2003. ‘‘The feedback from our patients has been very positive,” Xinis said. ‘‘They appreciate their accessibility.”

‘‘Being in a hospital can be scary for a young child,” Bertelsen said. ‘‘This is why we encourage parents to stay with their child. It provides a familiar face for the child and parents find it comforting to see what we’re doing for their child.” A sleeper chair is available for those who spend the night.

According to Bertelsen, a pediatric nurse is assigned to every shift. These nurses have completed comprehensive training in all aspects of pediatric care and assessment as well as growth and development. The nurses are then paired with a pediatric preceptor to complete their training.

Through an arrangement with Bay Shore Pediatrics, these nurses are able to work side-by-side with local pediatricians to expand their skills and knowledge. ‘‘Ongoing education is key,” said Bertelsen. ‘‘We have regular monthly classes on pertinent pediatric issues and special quarterly sessions on hot topics.”

‘‘We think parents will also be pleased with the pediatric treatment and waiting areas in the new Emergency Department when it opens in June,” said Xinis. The waiting area is decorated in a child friendly design of rainbows and stars. Children will be able to read or watch TV while they wait for treatment or test results.

‘‘Sometimes, it is difficult for parents to wait with children,” said Michelle Richardson, RN. ‘‘They don’t want to expose them to others who are waiting who might be contagious. This area will improve care by making their wait a safer, more child friendly experience.”

Richardson said the pediatric treatment room will also include an anteroom, which could be used for a consultation between parents and the physician or by a parent who has more than one child with them. ‘‘This way they can be with their sick child while still being close to the other,” she said.