Valley dwellers have watched in wonder as one building after another appears on McColl Road just north of Dove Ave. in Edinburg at the Doctors’ Hospital at Renaissance complex. What began as an outpatient surgery center has blossomed into a complete acute care facility, a women’s hospital, a cancer center, and a behavioral center.
The complex’s addition for its smallest patients opened in March of last year. It is their Children’s Pavilion, located in the Mid-Tower of the main hospital. The Children’s Pavilion offers a full range of services for children ages 0-22 (if still under the care of a pediatrician), including pediatric critical care, child psychology, surgery, gastroenterology, non-surgical cardiology, urology, and more. Doctors Juan Carlos Bernini and Rodrigo Erana from the Vannie Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer & Hematology Clinic in McAllen treat children diagnosed with cancer and various blood disorders.
DHR’s Children’s Pavilion encompasses two floors, the third floor for General Pediatrics and the fourth for Pediatric Oncology, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and the PICU Step-Down, where children go when they leave PICU. PICU is the newest service offered for pediatric patients at DHR.
Michelle Spurlock, clinical supervisor, said the pediatric unit at the hospital has grown dramatically. “We went from six beds to 17 and now to 48. Twenty-four of those beds are for general pediatric patients, 12 are for pediatric oncology, eight are for PICU and four for PICU step-down.”
Like those in the main hospital, all rooms in the Children’s Pavilion are private. Each has a comfortable recliner so parents can spend the night with their children. All PICU rooms have a private bathroom where parents can shower.
DHR prides itself on employing highly-trained nurses. All are certified in Pediatric Advanced Life Support in case any of their young patients “code,” meaning a patient is in cardiopulmonary arrest requiring immediate resuscitation.
“We use the most recent evidenced-based ongoing nurses’ training,” Spurlock said, “and we encourage all nurses to obtain as many certifications as possible so we can provide the best and safest patient care.”
Spurlock praises DHR for their nurse-to-patient ratio. “In PICU and in the pediatric chemotherapy area, there is one nurse for every two patients,” she said. “In Step-Down, we have a one-to-three ratio, and in general pediatrics, we normally have one-to-five.”
Prior to discharge, members of the Children’s Pavilion team train parents to care for their children when they go home. Pediatric educators train children diagnosed with diabetes about diet, medications and related matters so they can live fully despite their diagnosis.
Patient rooms are considered “safe havens.” Thus, procedures such as inserting an IV, drawing blood and obtaining bone marrow aspirations, are performed in treatment rooms in the pediatric unit rather than in the patient’s room.
DHR boasts equipment like Smart Pumps because dosing is different for pediatric patients than for adults. Smart Pumps, using sophisticated technology, allow nurses to plug in the name of the drug and the infusion rate, along with the patient’s weight. The unit beeps if the numbers entered fall outside the established clinical guidelines, thus alerting the nurse to dosing errors.
“Some of our surgeons also use Renaissance’s robotics,” Spurlock said, referring to their Da Vinci Surgical System. Da Vinci is a 3-D system that magnifies the surgical field up to 15 times. Using the system, surgeons can perform minimally invasive procedures with greater precision.
Soon, DHR will have Electronic Medical Records (EMR), a network that electronically captures patients’ complete medical records. Doctors will be able to log on to the system 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We’re going green,” Spurlock said, adding that EMR will also provide safer patient care because all members of the treatment team will be able to view a patient’s records at any given time.
Children’s Pavilion staff members provide a place where pediatric patients can have some fun. Colorful fish swim in the large aquarium inside the playroom. Huge windows allow children a beautiful view of McAllen and Edinburg. Monday through Thursday, McAllen High School students in the World Club, under the direction of teacher Veronique Barker, volunteer in the playroom after school.
Other members of the community also make a difference in the lives of children hospitalized at DHR. Members of Baptist Temple donate stuffed animals and a local woman, Lois Coddington, makes blankets the children can take home.
Dieticians work closely with pediatric patients in the Children’s Pavilion. “We have a special kids’ menu,” said Spurlock. “We want it to be like home.”
Safety is a big concern for the staff. “This is a locked unit,” Spurlock explained. “The only way in or out, except in an emergency, is with a badge.” Not only does this prevent children from wandering out of the unit, but it also prevents unauthorized individuals from entering.
Spurlock wants the community to know exactly how far DHR has come. “We’re proud of the accomplishments for pediatric patients at this hospital,” Spurlock said, “and we want the community to know we’re here for them and for their children.”
DHR has come a long way in the past 12 years, each step methodically taken to serve the wide-ranging physical and psychological needs of all family members. At the Children’s Pavilion, all members of the treatment team focus on caring for the family’s youngest members.
“We treat the children like they’re our own,” Spurlock said.