LAKEWOOD RANCH — In his four years as Lakewood Ranch Medical Center’s CEO, the No. 1 question Jim Wilson hears is: “Why doesn’t the hospital have a pediatrics unit?”
Soon, his answer will be: “We do.”
Wilson announced Aug. 3 that the hospital will not only have a pediatric physician working in its emergency room full time, but it will also be bolstering that change with the addition of a six-bed pediatric unit inside Lakewood Ranch Medical Center’s Women’s Center.
“The kids are in our community already,” Wilson said. “Our goal is to treat them in the community.”
Currently, children admitted to the emergency room at Lakewood Ranch are transferred to All Children’s Hospital if they need overnight observation or extended care.
The change will allow children who are treated at Lakewood’s emergency room to stay close to home, and for emergency room pediatric physicians to follow-up on their patients and better coordinate care with their primary physicians, said Wilson.
The hospital is in the process of adding a child-designated area in its emergency waiting room area, as well as the six-bed pediatric unit, which will feature large, suite-style rooms, in which parents and siblings also can stay, if needed.
Patrick and Holly Wright, who founded the Payton Wright Foundation in honor of their 5-year-old daughter who died of a brain tumor, have been assisting with the planning process to help make sure the pediatric unit is as comfortable and friendly as possible for families utilizing the unit, Wilson said. The Wrights’ foundation also is providing toys and equipment for the pediatric unit’s play area, and the room will be named after Payton, he said.
Holly Wright said she and Patrick were honored to be a part of the process, lending their experiences with hospitals throughout the country to make the unit a success, and noted having a pediatric unit close-by would have been helpful as their daughter went through blood transfusions and other procedures.
Through their foundation, they’ve already raised more than $4,000 to stock the playroom with puzzles, toys, books and more, and to install Xbox games in each patient room.
“It’s nice to see how people want to come out and help the community,” Holly Wright said, noting the community already is responding to the news. “This is going to be the hospital for their kids. We want to be able to help stock that room for the children and families.”
Wilson said Lakewood Ranch Medical has contracted with Sheridan Healthcorp Inc., a group that provides professional physician services in emergency rooms, to assume emergency room operations starting Oct. 29. At that time, Lakewood Ranch’s Women’s Center will become the “Women and Children’s Center.”
Adults visiting Lakewood’s emergency room will continue to be treated by adult-focused physicians, Wilson said.
Rumors Lakewood Ranch would add a pediatrics unit have been circulating for several months, but hospital administrators had remained tight-lipped on the change until now.
“We’re ready to talk about it and get the community excited about some of the initiatives,” Wilson said, noting the contract with Sheridan Healthcorp Inc. has been finalized. “We will have 24/7 emergency room pediatric (doctors) who are going to see patients locally.”
Local pediatricians said they are thrilled by the news.
“It gives us pediatricians such a relief to go home and sleep, and know a patient of mine is sick and that patient is going to be in good hands,” said Dr. Alfredo Giangreco, of Giangreco, Scarano & Taylor Pediatrics, noting he will be able to admit patients directly from his office. “You want to be serving them well.
“It’s huge,” he said. “Kids have been treated as adults for too long. They are special. This will fill the gap that has been empty for too long.”
Wilson said the medical center has been considering adding a pediatrics unit to its offerings for about two years.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
Pediatric Unit Donations
Individuals wishing to make toy or monetary donations for the Medical Center’s pediatric unit can contact Holly Wright at [email protected].
Items needed include art supplies, new stuffed animals, board games, books for all age levels and more.
By The Numbers
6 — Number of beds in the future pediatric unit.
12 — Approximate number of jobs being added because of the pediatric unit
25 — Percentage of patients to the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center emergency room that are under 18 years old.
300,000 — In dollars, approximate cost of adding the pediatric unit.