Published on November 05, 2018

Living Well: Working To Keep Sick Kids Close To Home

Parents will go to great lengths to help their sick child get well again.

It’s hard enough to watch a child struggle with injury or illness. Traveling for pediatric hospital care is a burden I’d like to take off the shoulders of local parents. That’s why I decided to become a pediatric hospitalist. Now we have a team that offers expanded pediatric inpatient care at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital.

A Different Type Of Care

Hospital care for children isn’t the same as it would be for an adult in the same situation, and it takes a different set of skills for clinicians to treat them. In the same way that pediatricians specialize in outpatient care for children, pediatric hospitalists do the same for children who are patients at the hospital.

One way children are different is that they can’t always tell us what’s wrong or what hurts. That means it often takes a little more detective work for us to figure out what’s ailing a child. If a child isn’t feeling well or in pain, they’re usually not patient or calm. That’s something else we have lots of experience with, and we work to soothe and settle children down as we examine and treat them.

The age of a pediatric patient can also greatly change the type of care they receive. Younger patients are susceptible to infections and disease processes not usually seen in adults. They also respond differently to medications and different kinds of treatments or therapies.

Caring For Families

When a child is sick in the hospital, we’re not just caring for the younger patients. We’re also caring for their families, especially their parents. Having a child in the hospital can be frightening and stressful for parents, so we work to reassure them, too. Children react to their parents’ emotions, so when parents are calm, their children often feel better about what’s happening.

We’re also able to act as guides for parents. Navigating the world of medicine can be difficult. We’re happy to explain to parents what their child is experiencing and what we can do to help it. We want them to know we’re doing everything we can to help their child get well.

Having two pediatric hospitalists on staff, myself and my colleague Dr. Eric Ex, means there’s always a pediatric hospitalist on duty at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. Whether it’s daytime, when your regular pediatrician is busy at the office seeing patients, or after hours on nights or weekends, we’re nearby to see and care for children who are admitted to the hospital. We also work to support your child’s regular pediatrician, so they can see patients and know your child is still in great hands.

Growing Our Services

To better care for children, we have to grow our services. Owensboro Health Regional Hospital’s Surgical-Pediatrics Unit was expanded this summer from 17 beds to 24 beds, and 10 new nurses and nursing assistants were added. That means Dr. Ex and I have the support staff in place to offer care for children.

Our goal is to offer care close to home. If we can care for a child here rather than transferring them to another location – especially one farther away – that benefits the child and their family. If a situation arises where your child needs care that only a children’s hospital can provide, we can also assess that need quickly and make the transfer process as fast and smooth as possible.

Parents want their children to be happy and healthy. We’ll do everything we can to get their children back to that as soon as possible.

Dr. Heather Bowers is a pediatric hospitalist with Owensboro Health Medical Group, now seeing patients from newly born to age 17 at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital.

This column originally appeared in the Health section of the Oct. 27, 2016 edition of the Messenger-Inquirer.

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.