Upstate's New Pediatric Friendly ER Opens; Dedicated Space Helps Younger Patients Feel More At Home

Aug 4, 2016

From left to right: Hospital CEO Dr. John McCabe, Dr. Richard Cantor, and Dr. Gary Johnson join other officials to cut the ribbon at the new $3 million pediatric emergency department. The new unit will begin serving patients on Tuesday.
Credit Jason Chen/WAER News

  When you think of a hospital Emergency Room, the words fantasy and whimsy aren’t the first that come to mind. Today Upstate University Hospital opened its new Pediatric E.R. aimed at giving a more kid-friendly experience to younger patients. Chair of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Gary Johnson understands how difficult a hospital visit can be for families.

“Most of the patients who come in here (they or their families) think it’s the worst day of their life. Unfortunately, for some of them they are correct. So the role of the providers in this institution and this ER is critical to all of those families and patients who come through. And I think that this is a true shining light for the region.”

Johnson says half of their patients come from outside of Onondaga County. Twenty five percent of the calls to the hospital are for children.

Now children checking into the E.R. will be moved to the fourth floor, where they’ll be greeted by staff specifically trained to work with kids. Previously, younger patients were seen in the general E.R. with little separation from the adults. Pediatric Emergency Director Dr. Richard Cantor says the move not only opens up rooms for the E.R. downstairs but also separates kids from stressful situations.

“There’s always the old description of waiting rooms being scary in any hospital or a doctor's office, but in the eyes of a child, scare is a strong word. It’s threatening because nobody's at their best in an emergency department. So right at the get-go, the anxiety is alleviated if they are immediately placed in a quiet room watching Disney.”

The new facility will increase the number of exam rooms from 13 to 18 with a capacity to serve 24 patients.
Credit Jason Chen/WAER News

Cantor says patients that are comfortable recover faster. Every room in the new Pediatric E.R. is private, has a window, and has a private bathroom to accommodate family. Cantor says the entertainment systems in each room help kids pass the time.

“When you create a child-friendly environment, there are some cool stuff. So we have a service where it sort of like a combination of Netflix and PBS and children’s television with children’s videos that are programmable on demand. In addition, we have PlayStations in the room. We’re unashamedly trying to spoil them.”

Cantor says Upstate Pediatric E.R. sees upwards of 27,000 patients a year. The new Pediatric E.R. will start seeing patients on Tuesday.

The hospital's CEO Dr. John McCabe said nurses are the backbone of running any hospital institution.
Credit Jason Chen/WAER News