Kids who come to the St. Luke’s Emergency Department in Nampa with certain conditions may be able to stay in the ED for extended time instead of being transferred to Boise.
“There’s a large pediatric need in the county that we’re trying to address,” said Dr. Allison Gauthier, St. Luke’s Emergency Medicine in Nampa. “We understand the emotional and financial stress it puts on our families who must travel to get care.”
The protocols will allow physicians to observe children with several complaints, including those related to abdominal pain, dehydration, gastroenteritis, ingestion, and respiratory illness. Those kept in the ED usually won’t need a specialist and will likely be discharged in less than 24 hours, with minimal treatment such as oxygen or fluids.
“Treating pediatric patients is like creating a graph, physicians need multiple points to evaluate whether they are improving or worsening,” said Dr. Rachel Thomas, an emergency room physician at St. Luke’s Nampa. “A tincture of time is what we need in pediatric patients. This program gives the physicians and the families a place to allow for that to happen.”
Nampa sees 500 to 600 children a month, almost as many as Boise. The Nampa children will see the same providers who serve the pediatric trauma unit in Boise. This new program will begin on Dec. 1.
Representatives of Pediatrics, the Emergency Department and Family Medicine Residency of Idaho teamed up to create procedures for these patients, including when a child will need to be transferred, and education for other providers and staff who will be involved. Organizers also reached out to primary care physicians. A team of the ED provider, the pediatric hospitalist, an FMRI resident and a faculty member will decide together the best and safest treatment site for each patient.
“It’s a collaboration to do what’s best for the kids in Nampa,” Thomas said. “It’s such a positive thing you see in St. Luke’s that you may not find in other systems – collaboration between health services.”
Prior to these new protocols, the hospital had no place to keep the children who needed minimal treatment and observation.
Thomas said keeping children in Canyon County should also create more space and resources at other facilities for patients who need them.
“This helps not only Canyon County but the whole community,” she said.
Sandra Forester works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.