UCSF opens new pediatric emergency department

Eight-bed pediatric ED to help fill need for child-focused emergency services.

Christine Cho, clinical director of UCSF's Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, examines a young patient.

New signs and fresh arrows painted on the sidewalks of Parnassus Avenue mark the important opening of a new, child-friendly, Pediatric Emergency Department (ED) at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, on UCSF’s Parnassus campus.

In late April, a new, eight-bed pediatric ED opened its doors — most of which are covered in dinosaur wall stickers or painted with under the sea vignettes — to the San Francisco community, to help fill the need for child-focused emergency services.

Prior to its opening, pediatric patients with emergency health problems were seen by pediatric or emergency medicine providers in the main ED. The whitewashed rooms with adult-sized equipment made for a setting that was often stressful for children, who are often terrified at the prospect of being in the emergency room in the first place.

For walk-in pediatric patients and their parents, the new entrance, check-in and triage are separate from the main ED; the pediatric ED entrance is just around the corner from the gift shop on the first floor of Moffitt Hospital.

It is located in a former adult prepare space, which was used for adult anesthesia pre-operation. The space also houses the lower acuity pediatric ED beds, as well as the pediatric urgent care facility and a family-friendly waiting area with toys and games.

Because the urgent care unit is located within the same space as the pediatric ED, patients who arrive at check-in can be quickly triaged and screened for the appropriate level of care. The four higher-acuity pediatric ED beds are located just across the hall and adjacent to the main ED, but are outfitted with equipment designed for children and their unique needs — as well as the stickers, Disney DVDs and painted walls that make it a more welcoming setting for kids.

To staff the new department, UCSF has brought on two new physicians who are board-certified in pediatric emergency medicine, in addition to two who were already on the faculty. Residents from both the emergency medicine and pediatrics programs rotate through the pediatric ED as part of their training at the academic medical center.

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