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Ribbon Cutting of the USA Health Pediatric Emergency Center

USA Health dedicates newly expanded Pediatric Emergency Center at Children’s & Women’s Hospital

The expansion more than doubled the size of the former emergency department from 9,000 square feet to nearly 19,000 square feet, and the facility expanded from 14 treatment areas to more than 30 areas, including 25 private treatment rooms.

Published Jan 10th, 2024

By Lindsay Hughes

USA Health today formally dedicated the new Pediatric Emergency Center at Children’s & Women’s Hospital, the only healthcare facility in the region offering specialized care 24 hours a day to best meet the needs of sick and injured children. Plans call for the center to open in early February.

The expansion more than doubled the size of the former emergency department from 9,000 square feet to nearly 19,000 square feet, and the facility expanded from 14 treatment areas to more than 30 areas, including 25 private treatment rooms.

At Children’s & Women’s Hospital, board-certified pediatric emergency medicine physicians and pediatric nursing staff work together to offer specialized, quality care. Other hospitals in the area transfer their sickest pediatric patients to Children’s & Women’s Hospital for treatment. In recent years, USA Health has recorded about 40,000 patient visits a year to the pediatric emergency department.

“We anticipate that number will grow when we move into the new state-of-the-art facility,” said Owen Bailey, M.S.H.A., FACHE, chief executive officer for USA Health and senior associate vice president for medical affairs. “We are excited to increase access to the unmatched services we provide as we continue to meet the healthcare needs of children and their families in the upper Gulf Coast region.”

The newly expanded center provides more space for parents and caregivers to be with their children and offers sensory strategies to help calm and support patients during their emergency visit. For example, a sensory room is designed to support multiple sensory needs while providing the opportunity for children to develop effective coping skills. The center also includes two behavioral health rooms and a private space dedicated to pediatric sexual assault patients.

“We understand that bringing a child or adolescent to the emergency department can be an overwhelming experience. That’s why we focus on offering family-centered care to make sure patients and their caregivers receive the support they need,” said Deborah Browning, M.S.N., RN, CENP, chief executive officer for Children’s & Women’s Hospital. “We also know that children are not little adults. They have unique physical and emotional needs. This new center was designed to better meet the needs of all children who come through our doors.”

In addition to highly trained pediatric emergency staff, child life specialists are on hand to help minimize patients’ anxieties and normalize the emergency department experience. These specialists are certified by the Association of Child Life Professionals and trained to support the developmental and psychosocial needs of children undergoing medical experiences. Additionally, social workers are available to connect children and their families with community resources, provide crisis intervention, and collaborate with families and medical staff to ensure the highest level of care is provided.

“The new Pediatric Emergency Center also strengthens the educational and training opportunities of future healthcare providers, including emergency medicine residents, medical students, nurses and nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other allied health professionals,” said John V. Marymont, M.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine at the University of South Alabama. “Now we have a leading-edge facility and equipment that matches our high-quality healthcare providers.”

USA Health, the health system of the University of South Alabama, broke ground on the project in fall 2021. The cost of the renovation, construction and equipment is $19 million, with USA Health having raised $14.2 million through donations and state appropriations.

Fairhope-based Walcott Adams Verneuille Architects is the architectural firm for the facility. MJ Harris Construction out of Birmingham is the general contractor for the project.

See photos from the dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting. 

About USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital

As part of the only academic health system on the upper Gulf Coast, USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital is the only stand-alone inpatient facility in Alabama dedicated to providing the most advanced and comprehensive healthcare to the region’s children and women. Services range from the region’s only pediatric emergency center open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, staffed with specially trained emergency medicine physicians and other providers to the region’s only level III neonatal intensive care unit, small baby unit and pediatric intensive care unit, where the area’s sickest children receive the most advanced care. The highly trained staff delivers more babies annually than any other hospital in the Mobile area and includes the region’s only high-risk obstetrics program.

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