Miniature Medicine - Ways We Customize Healthcare for Kids

Miniature Medicine - Ways We Customize Healthcare for Kids

Caring for children is a big job that often requires the smallest of instruments and equipment. And, accessing tiny blood vessels, setting small bones, or operating on still-growing organs requires highly specialized processes designed specifically to treat children.

“The things that have the biggest impact on care are sometimes the smallest in stature,” says Shaun Kemmerly, MD, chief medical officer of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. "Here are some of the tools and techniques we employ to care for children."

A Fun Space
"A hospital stay means a child isn’t home playing with friends or toys. Visits to the Child Life playroom are a chance to play with toys, read books and meet other children. “We’re here to help children understand what’s happening to them in a way that’s not scary or confusing,” says Sharon Wesberry, Child Life Manager.

Ouch-Free IVs
Because children’s veins are small, inserting an IV catheter can be difficult. Nurses at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital are trained to treat children using specialized, small equipment. Here, Kayla Hebert, RN, uses a bedside ultrasound machine to locate tiny veins on two-year-old Becca Duplaintis. The machine’s screen provides a live video view of the blood vessel, which helps the nurse access it as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Magnets That Reduce Surgeries
Children with scoliosis of the spine often require a steel, spine- straightening rod to be surgically implanted. Until recently, surgeons periodically had to go back in and make adjustments as the child grew, which meant multiple surgeries. Pediatric orthopedic surgeon Brad Culotta, MD, now treats scoliosis patients with a special rod that contains magnets. Once he has surgically implanted the rod, Dr. Culotta can make periodic adjustments from outside the child’s body by using a magnetic remote controller. “This allows us to treat and straighten the spine with just one surgery,” Dr. Culotta says. “The system has revolutionized treatment, drastically reduced risks associated with surgery, and it’s much less painful for the child.”

Simulation Training
Medical residents and nurses learn on training mannequins like this one pictured here. The computerized mannequins can be programmed to simulate many illnesses and conditions. The devices provide precise and instantaneous feedback about the effectiveness of learners’ actions and treatments. “These tools provide invaluable training to our young physicians so they can not only know what to do in the event of severe or uncommon conditions, they get hands-on experience providing the proper treatment,” says Kelechi Iheagwara, MD, who directs simulation training.

A Personal Touch
Young children headed to surgery at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital aren’t transported on a gurney. They are carried in the arms of a nurse or Child Life Specialist, which makes going to the operating room less stressful for the child and his or her parents.