Outer Banks Hospital: Caring for younger patients

Anesthesiologist Dr. Gary Hunter (right) and Rachel Dickens, RN (left) engage with pediatric patient Barrett Eilert to help create a relaxed, reassuring atmosphere.

If there’s one thing for sure, children are not “small adults.” Our younger patients require a special, child-friendly experience. That’s why professionals at The Outer Banks Hospital are trained to support the medical and emotional needs of our pediatric patients in a cheerful, comfortable setting.

We know that standard medical talk can be scary for young people. That’s why we speak in kid-friendly terms to help calm children when it comes time for things like “owies” and “special computers that show your heartbeat.”

Our surgical team is well versed in developing trusting relationships by making each child feel special and really listening to his or her concerns. All of our preoperative and recovery nurses are PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) certified, and our anesthesia care team includes an

anesthesiologist and three CRNAs (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) with pediatric training (see “Straight Talk from the Doc” box).

Patient have the option to choose their own one-of-a-kind, playfully patterned hospital cap. There’s even a “kids’ room” in the operating room (OR) recovery area decorated by local artist Julie Moye, who engaged the help of area students to paint sea creatures. Smiling starfish, sea kelp, and jellies cheerfully adorn the walls, and the room curtain is the canvas for a unique wave painting.

We know from experience that it’s also about providing a sense of control. By allowing our younger patients to keep their shoes on, even during the journey to the OR, they are reassured that they will be going home afterwards. There’s even a special child vehicle for the trip to the OR. Along the way, there are aquatic scenes of dolphins and clown fish illuminated above for their enjoyment.

And we’re building on the child-friendly experience with updated family-focused spaces to establish reassuring environments for young people.

Having the option for medical services locally, especially surgery, provides peace of mind because it eliminates the stress and expense of travel. More important, it enables you to remain close to your child’s surgical team during the important days following a procedure.

Of course, we understand that the thought of surgery can be over- whelming for young patients. That’s why we offer children and their families the opportunity to meet the team and tour the hospital prior to the important day. Scheduled through your surgeon’s office, this special one-on-one time allows you and your child to ask questions and become familiar with the hospital. If they choose, children can even take home their own anesthesia mask. It helps them get used to the idea of the mask before the day of surgery so isn’t so scary.

Our focus is to continue to develop services that allow individuals to remain close to home. From labor and delivery and throughout a lifetime, pediatric surgery included, your community hospital is here for you and your family.

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