McMaster University

McMaster University

New kids' ER to be less traumatic

The Hamilton Spectator
November 3, 2011
Carmela Fragomeni

The newest section of the McMaster emergency department will benefit kids more than the one in play when the hospital converted in April to a children-only facility, according to officials.

Phase 1, as it is called, officially opened Thursday but won't be operational until Tuesday morning. The completed phase means 40 per cent of the new ER is now finished.

The fresh and spacious ER section available now will make a much better impression on a child coming in for treatment, says Dr. Tony D'Souza, head of emergency medicine at McMaster Children's Hospital. "It's the first thing the kids will see and this makes that first experience less traumatic."

Waiting and treatment areas are larger, and the wall and furnishing colours were chosen to be more calming. There are even touch screens for the kids to play on while they wait.

"It's a less dour place …" D'Souza said. "Those little things make a difference."

In the old department, children with less serious illnesses could see the very sick youngsters coming in by ambulance. Now the common walk-in area is separate from the ambulance arrivals area and neither area is visible to the other, said Donna LaForce, director of pediatric emergency.

LaForce considers this the most essential benefit of the new ER design. "One of the two triage rooms is specifically dedicated to ambulance arrivals."

D'Souza says it is important for this ER to become a more comforting place for children and this is reflected in the design and layout. For one thing, the cubicles are bigger, meaning there's room for both parents and a stroller.

"It's not just window dressing," he said of the makeover and increased space. The new ER, once phase 2 is completed, will have twice the space the old one did. The $10-million project is expected to be completed in late 2012.

The public is invited to take a look at the new emergency on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.

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