New pediatric waiting room unveiled by Sarasota Memorial staff in its Sarasota Emergency Room

Project part of $3.9-million renovation of Emergency Care Center

Opening the new pediatric waiting area in Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Care Center are (from left) Sarasota County Public Hospital Board members Sarah Lodge and Britt Riner, Child Life Specialist Jenna Maye, pediatrician Dr. Katherine Keeley, SMH Emergency Care Center Medical Director Dr. Reuben Holland, Sarasota County Public Hospital Board Chair Sharon Wetzler DePeters, and SMH-Sarasota Campus President Lorrie Liang. Contributed photo

The Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Sarasota Campus this week opened a new pediatric waiting area inside its Emergency Care Center (ECC) “to help children and families feel more comfortable during their hospital visit,” the hospital announced.

“It’s all part of a $3.9 million ECC renovation project, which includes a new and improved check-in, registration and waiting area, and a new emergency radiology area with an additional CT scanner to expand capacity in emergencies,” a news release explains.

“This will all help to streamline the process of diagnosing and treating patients from the moment they enter the Sarasota Campus, while enhancing the experience of children in the hospital, said Sarasota County Public Hospital Board member Britt Riner, who served on the Pediatric ER Liaison Committee that helped plan the design of the children’s area, in the release.

“The pediatric waiting room is designed to make the ER a little less scary for young patients,” the release points out. Separated from the rest of the ECC by a glass partition, it features child-friendly décor, toys and a gaming monitor “to help the community’s youngest patients feel more at ease when waiting to be seen by healthcare providers,” the release notes.

“Going to the hospital for an emergency can be a stressful experience for a child — and a parent,” Riner said in the release. “As the mother of four young kids, I’m confident this dedicated, beautiful space for kids in the ER, coupled with our talented medical team led by Dr. Reuben Holland and our new pediatric-specialized equipment, will reduce anxiety and be good for children and parents,” she added in the release. “I am proud Sarasota Memorial continues to fulfill its duty to care for everyone in our community, at every age and stage.”

“The pediatric waiting area is the latest addition to a wide range of resources SMH-Sarasota offers to address the specific needs of children and families,” the release explains. “The hospital has employed Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital’s pediatric hospitalists since 1996 to provide 24/7 around-the-clock care for children hospitalized at SMH-Sarasota, as well as specialty consults for children treated in the ER. SMH-Sarasota also has 24/7 neonatologists working in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at all times to care for premature babies and critically ill newborns,” the release points out. “The neonatal and pediatric hospitalists work collaboratively with families’ community pediatricians to ensure coordinated inpatient, outpatient and follow-up care,” it adds.

“All of the resources our families need when a child is sick are available at Sarasota Memorial, and now our tiniest patients will have more comfort and quality care from the moment they walk through the doors of the hospital,” said Dr. Katherine Keeley, a pediatrician with Sarasota Memorial’s First Physicians Group who has helped lead a number of pediatric care advances at SMH over the past 25 years, including its longstanding partnership with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, in the release. “Our community pediatricians are able to work with the pediatric hospitalists from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital to get updates on patients admitted to Sarasota Memorial, and we can trust their level of expertise when working with the families we know so well.”

“Other services and specialized programs to keep children safe and comfortable while receiving care include high-tech pediatric treatment rooms, experienced pediatric nurses who are PALS-certified (Pediatric Advanced Life Support), pediatric intervention nurses,” a pediatric pharmacy and dedicated pediatric pharmacists inside the hospital, a dedicated pediatric sedation team, pediatric dieticians, a child life specialist, music room and age-appropriate play areas and activities designed to reduce anxiety and add some fun to a child’s hospital stay,” the release adds.