Beyond the Call of Duty – MarinHealth Medical Center Remains Committed to Enhancing Emergency Care for its Littlest Patients

With scary monitors, strange sounds and worried-looking grown-ups, the Emergency Department can be a frightening place for children, especially when they’re hurting.

More than 15 percent of MarinHealth Medical Center’s patients are pediatric, and we are committed to meeting their needs through our “ouchless ED.” That means providing child-sized medical equipment, enacting protocols to soothe and distract youngsters during medical procedures, and employing a Child Life Specialist who explains what’s happening in a reassuring, age-appropriate manner. Beyond making the ED less scary for kids, these “ouchless” techniques also relieve anxious parents.

Our emergency staff and physicians have been specially trained by pediatric emergency care specialists from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Our care team views the emergency experience through the eyes of a child and treats them accordingly. For example, a toddler is best cared for while in the comfort of a parent’s lap. Distraction techniques can be effective in treating a frightened 6-year-old, while a precocious preteen will likely have a lot of questions about their condition and medical procedures.

A fear of needles is a common problem for children – and more than a few adults! When possible, our team gives children medication through atomizers, needle-free injections or nasal sprays. Of course, sometimes an injection or IV is necessary, in which case our nurses use numbing medicine or shot blockers to reduce the pain. To distract from needle sticks, our Child Life Specialist may bring out Buzzy Bee, a toy-like, hand-held device that combines vibration and ice to minimize sharp pain. Our team uses interactive and educational toys to explain medical procedures, and breathing masks with animal faces to add an element of fun to a child’s treatment.

The high-quality care at MarinHealth Medical Center has earned us certification as an Advanced Pediatric Receiving Center. Our ED is staffed with seasoned experts, including a pediatric hospitalist onsite, 24/7. In the rare instances where more specialized care is required, we can stabilize a child’s condition and then provide a seamless transfer for more advanced care through our partnership with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

We are committed to maintaining and growing our pediatric ED capabilities to ensure the biggest advantages for our littlest patients. MarinHealth Foundation’s 2022 Gala, Boots and Bling, will be held Oct. 8 to benefit Pediatric Emergency Services. We thank our supporters for their commitment to our hospital and the children of this community.