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VOL. 131 | NO. 103 | Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Baptist Adding ICU at Children’s Hospital

By Madeline Faber

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The Spence and Becky Wilson Baptist Children’s Hospital has hit its ceiling and is now expanding to meet increased demand. When the 19,000-square-foot pediatric emergency department opened last year, Baptist Memorial Health Care expected to treat 35 children a day. That figure is more like 65 to 70 children, with the hospital expecting to exceed 20,000 patients in its first year.

The need for emergency pediatric care has far exceeded expectations at the Spence and Becky Wilson Baptist Children’s Hospital, which will add a pediatric intensive care unit by the end of the year.

(Baptist Memorial Health Care)

The first floor of the children’s hospital is active throughout the night, with emergency medicine physicians performing orthopedic, neurology and cardiology care alongside surgery and out-patient diagnostics. The upper three floors of the facility are empty in anticipation of the hospital’s expansion.

Hospital CEO Kevin Hammerman has launched a $4.3 million build-out to turn the second floor of the hospital into a pediatric intensive care unit.

By the end of this year, the PICU will have 12 heavily monitored beds for children who need acute care.

“I think the question really is one of confidence,” said Hammerman. “You want to be able to take in a child that’s really kind of on the bubble of having something serious go wrong and you can’t treat them safely. We’ve always sent those kids on to Vanderbilt or Le Bonheur (Children’s Hospital) or wherever.”

Patients who come to Baptist Children’s Hospital through its emergency room or in-patient services can be quickly redirected to the PICU upstairs. When a critical care situation arises, Hammerman said time is precious.

“That’s really our objective, to take that kid that’s really too sick to be in a general pediatric unit or who continues to decline after they’re admitted,” he said. “It’s really a natural extension of our pediatric capabilities.”

When the PICU is up and running, it will create 70 new positions.

“The big thing that goes into the ICU technology is the monitoring technology,” Hammerman said, adding that the department will have equipment for laboratory and imaging capabilities along with cardiac, physiological and respiratory monitoring.

When the PICU opens, the upper two floors of the children’s hospital will likely be converted to house general pediatric bays.

“You want to be able to take care of the things the community needs first and then prepare for that outpatient care,” Hammerman said.

The hospital will eventually stretch from emergency room care on the ground floor to check-up care for older children on the upper floors.

“We’re already take care of neonates. If you’re doing a good job with that then you might as well add pediatric surgery and cardiology and some other specialties and that makes it easier to extend into pediatric care for older kids,” he said.

Located on the campus of the Baptist Women’s Hospital on Humphreys Boulevard, Hammerman sees the two hospitals working in conjunction to provide a full spectrum of care.

Nearly 5,000 babies are delivered annually at the women’s hospital. And when those babies fall ill or suffer injury, they can return to the adjacent children’s hospital to receive further care.

“It’s essentially taking care of a population as they grow up.”

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