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Comfort, specialists high points of Lutheran’s kids ER


Just the thought of rushing a child to the emergency room is enough to give many parents an anxiety attack.

Brian Bauer, the father of 1-year-old and 3-year-old boys, has made that white-knuckle drive. So has Susan Frayer, the mother of four, ages 4, 6, 11 and 13.

They remember the challenges of soothing and distracting their children as doctors provided critical care.

Now, Bauer and Frayer are in a position to make emergency visits a little less scary for future pediatric patients.

Lutheran Health Network will invest $2.4 million to build a separate pediatric emergency department at its southwest Fort Wayne hospital, officials said Tuesday, adding details to Monday’s initial announcement.

The 7,100-square-foot addition, which will be adjacent to Lutheran Hospital’s main emergency department, is scheduled to open in October.

Lutheran Children’s Hospital was created in 1999, using the “hospital-within-a-hospital” concept. Pediatric services are spread throughout the facility.

The new pediatric emergency department will have seven beds in private treatment rooms. The hospital will continue to designate two trauma treatment beds for children in the regular emergency department.

“You try to segregate children (in the emergency department), but it doesn’t always happen that way. There can be something scary going on next door,” Bauer, Lutheran Hospital’s CEO, said Tuesday during a news conference.

Each private pediatric exam room will include a rocking chair, which will allow a parent to hold and soothe a young patient. TVs with movies and video games will be available to distract anxious children.

But maybe the most important detail is that doctors, nurses and other staff will be specialists. Staff will treat children only, which makes it easier to gain the experience necessary to detect rarely seen conditions in pediatric patients, Lutheran officials said.

Dr. Frayer, who is board certified in pediatric and emergency medicine, will be medical director of pediatric emergency services. Frayer, who is practicing in Elkhart County, officially will join Lutheran in July.

Lutheran Hospital now designates four of its emergency department examination rooms for pediatric patients – in addition to the two trauma beds. The new pediatric exam rooms will be about twice as large as the ones they are replacing.

Lutheran officials expect their adult emergency patients to benefit from separate departments almost as much as the children will.

In addition to shielding younger patients from rough language and sickening sights, they said, the separation allows older patients to rest without being troubled by crying babies.