Thursday, November 19, 2015

Children's Mercy Hospital: Child Centered Care Close to Home

Disclosure: I attended a day event at Children's Mercy to learn about the hospital and their services. I was provided lunch but no compensation was received. 

There are many amazing things in Kansas City that I've come to appreciate in my 13+ years as a resident, but since having children I've realized that one of our biggest assets is Children's Mercy Hospital. We have used the hospital several times in the past couple of years, once for their ER for Connor and once for urgent care for Grace and we had amazing experiences both times. I was excited when I got an email recently asking if I'd like to come learn more about the hospital and their services. I headed to Children's Mercy Kansas (formerly Children's Mercy South) in Overland Park last week and had the chance to take a tour and learn about some of their clinics, departments, and overall culture. Some of it I knew, some I didn't and I'm thrilled to be able to share a few of the things I learned with you!

Started in 1897 by two sisters, Children's Mercy has grown from only a few beds to one of the leading children's hospitals in the nation. The hospital values compassion and mercy and the staff unashamedly state that the kids are the ones in charge. They started with the principle to offer care to all kids regardless of the ability to pay and that is still practiced today.

The hospital was created with kids in mind. With colorful decorations and kid size equipment, it is designed to feel as "un-hospital" like as possible.  Throughout all of hospital's many campuses, you will find murals and art pieces done by the hospital artist Scribe. He even designed the artwork for all of the transport vehicles.

From the moment a child enters the hospital, the employees try everything they can to make him or her feel comfortable. The Child Life Department provides services to help make the hospital experience as easy as possible for both the patient and the family. From child friendly procedural education to playgroups, the Child Life specialists try to make things fun.

At Children's Mercy Kansas, the Art Galaxy wall is full of beautiful artwork from the kids. This location has the only sleep lab and epilepsy monitoring units in the hospital system.

Children's Mercy has two facility dogs that provide comfort to kids. We met Hope who is a trained therapy dog that works mainly in the epilepsy monitoring unit. She helps keep the kids calm during their testing. The other dog Hunter mainly works in the Oncology unit downtown.

One of the highlights of our day was hearing from Dr. Barnes, the Medical Director of Cardiac Transplantation. She talked to us about the very detailed process of starting the Cardiac Transplant department at Children's Mercy and answered all of our questions about their very first heart transplant patient. They have now completed 3 heart transplants and have 4 more patients on the wait list. It was fascinating to hear the process of the transplants and it is amazing that we have this program in Kansas City

After a busy morning of very informative presentations, we broke up into groups and I was lucky enough to get put in the group to head to Blue Valley Urgent Care and Sports Medicine. We got to ride in an ambulance over to the building and I was so thrilled! This is not your average ambulance. This is a massive transport vehicle made specifically for kids. These ambulances will never arrive on scene. If you call 911 for your child, they will first be transported to your local hospital and Children's Mercy will be called to transfer your child to one of their facilities. Most parents are shocked to hear that they are not allowed to ride in the back with their kid, but the medic assured us that 99% of kids calm down right away and love riding in the back. They even have a DVD player for kids to watch during the transport, how cool is that?? These ambulances have 4 seats in the front so that the parents can at least be in the vehicle with their child.

Children's Mercy has a huge fleet of ambulances, a helicopter, and a plane for their exclusive use. They will also have a jet that they can use for up to 12 hours a day soon. The transport team travels all over the country and last year covered enough miles to reach the moon and back 17 times. How amazing is that??
Photo from ChildrensMercy.org
Photo from ChildrensMercy.org
The bloggers and transport team

When we arrived at Blue Valley Urgent Care we got a tour and learned that they are available when your pediatrician is not. They can take care of anything from strep to a sprain. We have used urgent care for Grace before and it was a life saver, we were in and out within an hour.

We then got the chance to tour the Sports Medicine area which focuses on the needs of middle school and high schoolers. While athletes are a large part of their patient base, the Sports Medicine department also helps dancers and even musicians with repetitive motion injuries. Most physical therapy departments are not set up for the needs of teenagers and so Children's Mercy designed this building just for the teens. It's decorated like a gym and they have a team of sports medicine physicians and physical therapists dedicated to helping kids heal from sports injuries.
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This focus on sports medicine has led to an amazing partnership just announced today with Sporting KC! To learn more about the partnership check out this article. Some of the highlights include that Children’s Mercy will open a state-of-the-art Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center at the National Training Center, which will break ground in Kansas City, Kansas, in spring 2016 and what we have known as Sporting Park will now be Children's Mercy Park!

To learn more about the wonderful services that Children's Mercy provides to Kansas City and the surrounding area, visit ChildrensMercy.org. Also, make sure to watch Season 2 of Inside Pediatrics premiering at 7 p.m., Dec. 16 on KMBC. You can watch Season 1 here and I highly recommend it!! It's narrated by our hometown favorite Paul Rudd and it's addicting. I started watching the first episode late on a Saturday night and might have watched the entire season that night. I couldn't stop watching. So I will be tuning into the premiere!

Thanks to Children's Mercy for having me for the day and although I hope I never need to bring my children to your hospital, I am so glad we have it close to home when needed. 

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