LITTLE ROCK, AR. (April 15, 2013) – Every minute is sacred inside the Donald W. Reynolds Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH). For a team that cares daily for more than 20 critically ill and injured patients, each single minute can make a difference in a child's life.
The team can hardly believe that it's been a decade – 5.25 million minutes – since the unit reopened with a focus on family-centered care after a major remodel in 2003. That update was made possible by the generosity of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which gave an $8.4 million gift to the unit. That is still the largest gift ever made to the hospital. The remodel brought in state-of-the-art technology and nearly doubled the unit's size to 23,000 square feet.
"Time flies, but we're thrilled to have the opportunity to serve Arkansas children and their families," said Kim White, RN, nursing director of the Reynolds PICU at ACH. "This team is really amazing and a tremendous resource for Arkansas children at a critical point in their lives."
In the decade since the renovation, the PICU has been on the front lines to care for children in many crisis scenarios, ranging from the Super Tuesday tornadoes in 2008 to the global pandemic of H1N1.
The 2003 makeover put ACH at the cutting edge of pediatric care facilities with a focus on making families a part of their child's care team. For the first time, parents were able to room-in with the child on the PICU because the remodel included private rooms with daybeds. Flexible equipment and furniture gave families the options to have the room arranged in a way that would allow them to be closer to the patient and even hold the child in many scenarios. Laundry facilities, private consult rooms, sleeper chairs, a small kitchen and a lactation room for nursing mothers have also eased the stress of many families over the past 10 years. A 2004 study of the PICU showed that staff stress levels lowered as a response to the growing emphasis on family-centered care.
"It has allowed families to build a relationship with us," said Steve Schexnayder, MD, chief of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at ACH. He is also a professor of Pediatric and Internal Medicine in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine. "If we're not escorting them out of the room, then they're not worrying about what's happening to their child at that time. The families have become part of the culture of the ICU, and that's how it should be."
The renovation also allowed the PICU to expand its team and care for even more kids on a daily basis. In 2012, the PICU saw 1,606 patient visits.
As the team looks ahead to the next 10 years, there is much excitement about the opportunities on the horizon.
"We're still grateful for how the Reynolds Foundation has given so many kids a new chance at life through the resources available in our PICU," White said. "We plan to continue to improve this state of the art resource for children and send thousands more kids home happy and healthy in the next decade."
Arkansas Children's Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children from birth to age 21. Over the past century, ACH has grown to span 29 city blocks and house 370 beds, a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,000 employees. The private, nonprofit healthcare facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research - all dedicated to fulfilling our mission of enhancing, sustaining and restoring children's health and development. For more information, visit www.archildrens.org.
UAMS is the state's only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 790 medical residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS' Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or
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