Children’s Center additions help families stay together
BETHANY — Parents who have children who need rehabilitation have to deal with stress not only from the separation, but also from preparing to take over the children's medical care when they return home.
New rooms at The Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany could help ease some of those strains, said Micah Puckett, nurse manager for the patient medical rehabilitation unit. On Tuesday, the hospital allowed visitors to tour a new, 100,000-square-foot building that includes rooms for 40 additional patients.
The hospital specializes in long stays for children who need physical therapy and other treatments before going home. Some children never return home, but are transferred to other facilities for adults in their early 20s.
Traditionally, patients stayed in large wings with multiple beds, Puckett said, but the new rooms are designed for families. Each has a private bathroom, and the couch folds down into a twin bed so a parent can spend the night, he said.
When parents spend more time with their children and the treatment team, they're more prepared to take over jobs like giving medications, Puckett said. Staff members work to ease parents into tasks they'll need to take over later, for example, letting them practice giving injections to oranges before they try doing it for their children, he said.
“Most of it's not scary until it's your kid. Then everything's scary,” he said.
Move-in next week
Patients are expected to start moving into the new building next week, making some room for work in the hospital's older building. When all rooms are open, the hospital's capacity will increase to 160 patients.
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Lori Boyd, chief operations officer for The Children's Center Rehabilitation Hospital, said the hospital had 111 patients checked in Tuesday.
“That's pretty much capacity for us and we're still getting referrals in, so we could see the need to grow,” she said.
Part of the increase is due to improved technology, Boyd said. Children who were born prematurely or with severe genetic disorders would have died in the past, but now they can live long enough to make rehabilitation a possibility, she said.
The new building also has meeting spaces for the medical and nursing students who do rotations at the hospital, and will consolidate all outpatient services on its second floor, Boyd said. In the older building, families had to go from floor to floor for their appointments, she said.
One of the two floors with patient rooms likely will house kids who have brain injuries and need a “low-stimulation” environment, Boyd said. Kids who have traumatic brain injuries, often from accidents in all-terrain vehicles or cars, can't tolerate bright lights and loud noises, she said.
“It doesn't allow their brains to heal, because (the brain) is trying to process too much,” she said.