What is Best for the Kids

Pediatric Perioperative nurse Amber Lloyd, left, makes the waiting area for pediatric surgery patients more kid-friendly with a mural and other improvements. (See story)

Big things are happening for small patients. Families and health care providers across the region rely on the University of Maryland Children's Hospital to treat the most complex conditions in patients ”“ from newborns to young adults. Regardless of the diagnosis, all of the patients get one important thing: a treatment plan based as much on a family-centered approach as on the best medical evidence.

"We are building on our success as a world-class hospital that is already recognized for expertise in cardiology, gastroenterology, hematology/oncology, neonatology, pulmonology and surgery," says Steven J. Czinn, M.D., head of the University of Maryland Children's Hospital and professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "As we continue to grow, we look at the needs of the community and concentrate on building services in those areas."

In all the pediatric specialty areas of the Children's Hospital, the focus is on family-centered care. That approach means that the clinical staff, including physicians, communicates thoroughly with parents and patients. Whenever possible, patients are treated in the outpatient specialty clinic on the 5th floor of the Medical Center or at satellite clinics held in multiple counties. In cases where a child must be admitted to the hospital, every attempt is made to make it as normal an experience as possible. At every stage of diagnosis and treatment, the patient and the family's emotional and physical well-being are considered.

Creating this family-centered approach involves the whole team of caregivers, including nurses, patient-care technicians, unit secretaries, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and social workers. In anesthesia, radiology, the laboratories, pharmacy and other areas, staff members who are devoted to working with pediatric patients bring their highly specialized knowledge to the care team. Child life specialists provide developmental and psychosocial support to patients throughout their hospitalization.

"Being a hospital-within-a-hospital allows the UM Hospital for Children care providers to share experiences and gain insight from colleagues that might not take place in other children's hospitals," says Kristin Feliciano, vice president for women's and children's services. "As I round in our patient care areas, I am continuously impressed by the level of attention given to patients and parents by all members of the team. From the security officers' reassurance to a collaborative team discussion between OT, nurses and parents, it is clear that the patient and family come first."