People often ask me how “my children’s hospital” is doing, to which I will always quickly reply, it is not “my hospital” or “your hospital” but “our children’s hospital”. It is so important that we provide programs and services for children and families that meet the needs of our communities. In doing so, we can then truly be viewed as a health care facility to be proud of. Yet how do we really make that happen?

First and foremost, it is important to realize that whenever we plan a new initiative, we invite parents and often older children to be part of the planning. To do this, we have created Family Advisory Committees for our inpatient facilities, composed of family members we have cared for, as well as other members of our community who want to be a part of “our children’s hospital.” We also have an oversight Advisory Council made up of public members from parents to community leaders who keep an ear to the ground and make sure we are achieving our vision of being a “children’s hospital without walls.”

In addition to these steps, we also have recently appointed a new Director of Quality for Vermont Children’s, Dr. Paul Rosenau, who is in the process of setting up interdisciplinary quality improvement committees in all our clinical areas with oversight by a Quality Council—all of which again have parent representation. Dr. Rosenau, who is a Hospitalist with inpatient expertise, is someone who has been with us since he initially trained as a resident here, and is also a dad and active member of his local community. In fact, so many of our doctors, nurses, and staff volunteer or participate in so many community activities to show how vested we are in our communities and to make sure we are optimizing the health of the children in our region.

If all these efforts were not enough, we are also reaching out to the public through the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program, which improves the quality of care in towns all over our state where pediatrics and family medicine are practiced. Every area of our state wants to improve the public health of their children, and our VCHIP program collects data and then helps each office, school, or hospital institute programs that do just that – so our communities become healthier because our children’s hospital is a part of those communities. In fact, I cannot think of an area of Vermont or upstate New York that is not benefitting from a program or service we offer, thus making us truly a children’s hospital without walls and one we can all take pride in.

In a month where we find ourselves giving thanks, I certainly want to thank everyone in our region who contributes in one way or another to make Vermont Children’s Hospital truly “our children’s hospital” and one for which we can all be thankful. Here’s to a happy and healthy upcoming holiday season.

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM.

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

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