Visiting the Emergency Department is a stressful experience for patients at the best of times, but for children, the impact can be even more dramatic.
An innovative approach to ‘fast track’ children and their families from the ED to a pediatric clinic—called Paedlink—has been so successful since its implementation at The Scarborough Hospital’s General campus in 2007 that it was recently expanded to TSH’s Birchmount campus.
PaedLink has also helped reduce ED wait times by 42 per cent, to less than three hours from an average four-and-a-half hours.
“Everyone knows that wait times in the ED are a key priority, and our aim is to facilitate caring for patients by the right professional at the right time,” explains Barbara Milana Scott, Patient Care Director, Maternal Newborn and Child Care. “TSH was one of the first hospitals in Ontario to implement this program and so far, the comments from parents have been overwhelmingly positive.”
PaedLink diverts or expedites the care of low acuity pediatric patients (triage levels 3, 4 and 5) away from the ED to a PaedLink Clinic on the Paediatric Unit. The result is a successful collaboration between two departments: Maternal Newborn & Child Care and the Emergency Department.
“We have built a great relationship between departments—nurses to nurses, multidisciplinary to multidisciplinary, physician to physician—and it’s working well,” says Ann MacKinnon, Patient Care Director of TSH’s Emergency Department. “I think it’s just another way of reinforcing how important ED partnerships are with the rest of the hospital. The ED is the gateway to the hospital. The rest of the hospital system affects the ED, so this demonstrates a very effective partnership where we work together for the best care of the patient.”
Just one of many initiatives TSH is undertaking to address ED wait times, PaedLink also fits in with the hospital’s new Mission, Vision and Values.
“This program is meeting the unique needs of children and their families by providing the right service by the right care provider at the right time and in the right place,” Ann adds.
For new mother Lee Marlatt, PaedLink proved to be a “smooth, extremely professional” care experience for Michael, her 17-month-old son who recently presented to TSH’s Emergency Department.
“The ambulance brought us to the Emergency Department and, right from the get-go, we were treated so kindly and with such consideration and thoughtfulness by the Emergency staff,” Lee explains. “We were moved very quickly up to paediatrics where we were seen by Dr. (Peter) Azzopardi (Chief of Pediatrics). I can’t say enough about the doctor and his team. The nurses were phenomenal. I was a little bit beside myself, but they still made sure I was okay and the baby was okay, and that all our needs were being met.
“I was born in this hospital, and my father just happened to be in the Critical Care Centre at the same time. I can tell you I am so impressed and thankful. The gratitude my family has for The Scarborough Hospital over the past couple of weeks is overwhelming.”
Pat MacLaughlin has worked in the Pediatrics Unit since 1986, and says PaedLink is a great benefit to the young patients, their families, the ED and the Pediatrics Unit.
“The atmosphere in the Pediatric Unit is obviously a more child-friendly environment,” Pat explains. “Up here, there are plenty of good things to distract the children—they can watch movies, play with toys. And when the parents see their child in this environment, their stress and anxiety is alleviated, too.”