Designing and building a new healthcare facility is a significant undertaking that requires careful planning to ensure it meets the diverse healthcare needs of the community it serves. One essential aspect often overlooked in facility planning is whether the facility is pediatric-ready.
Being pediatric-ready means having the infrastructure, expertise, and resources to provide high-quality care to children and adolescents. In this guide, we will explore the critical considerations for ensuring your new facility is fully prepared to offer pediatric services.
Why Should Your Facility Be Pediatric Ready?
Children have unique healthcare needs that differ significantly from those of adults. Their anatomy, physiology, and emotional development require specialized care and facilities tailored to their specific requirements.
A pediatric-ready facility acknowledges these differences and is equipped to address them.
Choose the Right Facility Design and Infrastructure
The right facility design should cater to safety protocol and comfort for the children. Your facility should be equipped with the right infrastructure.
1. Child-Friendly Environment
A pediatric-ready facility should create a welcoming and child-friendly environment. This includes colorful, age-appropriate decor, child-sized furniture, and play areas. Consider the fact that children who are hospitalized or are receiving care may spend an extensive period at the facility.
Children are sometimes overwhelmed by visits to the doctor. Therefore, the physical space should help reduce anxiety and fear often associated with healthcare visits.
2. Specialized Pediatric Units
Consider having specialized pediatric units within your facility. These units can be tailored to specific pediatric specialties, such as pediatric cardiology, oncology, or neurology. This allows for focused care and expertise in treating childhood diseases and conditions. Pro Tip: Consider having a diversified portfolio of pediatric services as early as possible, so as to increase services offered on a wider scale.
3. Pediatric Emergency Department
In emergencies, children need immediate, specialized care. A dedicated pediatric emergency department, staffed by healthcare professionals with pediatric training, is crucial for providing rapid and appropriate care to pediatric patients.
These staff should also be given continuous training and learning opportunities to deal with ever-evolving medical challenges.
4. Pediatric Operating Rooms
If your facility offers surgical services, it must have pediatric-friendly operating rooms. These should be equipped with age-appropriate surgical equipment and anesthesia machines designed for children.
Moreover, the operating rooms should be kept neat, organized, and sterilized, to enable efficient surgical procedures.
5. Child-Sized Diagnostic Equipment
Ensure that your facility has diagnostic equipment such as MRI, CT, and X-ray machines designed for pediatric patients.
Smaller equipment can help reduce anxiety and radiation exposure for children.
Catering to Staffing Needs
Well-trained staff enhance patients’ comfort and perform duties aptly. Address any staffing needs your facility has. Further, your pediatric staff should have clear access to the administrative unit so that any issues they have can be sorted. This will help build their morale and work ethic. Pediatric staff include:
1. Pediatric Specialists
Having a team of pediatric specialists is essential for providing high-quality care. This includes pediatricians, pediatric nurses, pediatric surgeons, and subspecialists for various pediatric conditions.
2. Pediatric Training for All Staff
Even if your facility is not exclusively pediatric-focused, all staff members should receive training in pediatric care.
This includes understanding the developmental stages of children, communicating with pediatric patients and their families, and recognizing pediatric-specific emergencies.
3. Child Life Specialists
Child life specialists play a vital role in helping children cope with the stress and anxiety associated with medical procedures. These professionals use play and other techniques to help children understand and feel more comfortable during their healthcare visits.
Establish Pediatric-Friendly Policies and Procedures
Given that hospital departments and practices follow strict procedures, a stable pediatric department should have protocols too. These policies should be mindful of children and their needs. They include:
1. Age-Appropriate Communication
Develop policies that encourage age-appropriate communication with pediatric patients. Healthcare providers should speak directly to older children and adolescents, explaining procedures and conditions in a way they can understand. They should also be mindful of their tone and communication attitude.
2. Family-Centered Care
Pediatric care shouldn’t be centered around your facility and the services it offers but should be family-centered. Encourage parents and caregivers to be actively involved in their child’s care, including decision-making processes.
Provide family-friendly waiting areas and accommodations. Comfort for the parents or guardians translates well for the pediatric facility’s stature and review.
3. Pain Management
Children and even teenagers experience pain differently from adults, and their pain management needs should be a top priority.
Implement evidence-based pain management protocols that are tailored to the age and developmental stage of the child.
4. Pediatric Medication Safety
Establish stringent medication safety protocols to prevent medication errors when administering drugs to children. Pediatric dosages must be accurately calculated and verified to ensure patient safety.
Offer Specialized Pediatric Services
Specialized services cater to critical patient needs, specifically pediatric needs. These services can establish your hospital as the go-to place for advanced care. The services your facility can offer include:
1. Pediatric Rehabilitation Services
If your facility offers rehabilitation services, consider having specialized pediatric rehabilitation services to help children recover from injuries, surgeries, or chronic conditions.
2. Child Psychiatry and Psychology
Mental health is as crucial for children as it is for adults. Offer child psychiatry and psychology services to address the emotional and behavioral needs of pediatric patients.
3. Pediatric Dental and Oral Health
Oral health is a significant part of overall health. Consider integrating pediatric dental services into your facility to provide comprehensive care for children’s teeth and oral hygiene. Ensuring your new healthcare facility is pediatric-ready is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic one.
By providing specialized care for children and adolescents, you not only meet the unique healthcare needs of your community but also position your facility as a trusted and comprehensive healthcare provider.
From facility design and infrastructure to staffing, training, and specialized services, being pediatric-ready involves a holistic approach to healthcare delivery. Prioritize pediatric care tips and strategies which are fundamental, and ultimately improve health outcomes for children and the community at large.