I have just completed a month helping oversee the care we provide to children and families on Baird 5, the inpatient unit of the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital at the UVM Medical Center.  I do this every July because that is when our new trainees (recent graduates of medical school) start their residency training in pediatrics, and I like to make sure that despite their being new to our hospital, the quality of care we provide is as strong as ever—and this past month was no exception.  I am so proud of the dedication, commitment, teamwork and enthusiasm that our new residents, medical and nursing students demonstrated this past month.  I cannot remember a busier July in terms of children admitted to our hospital, and yet, our new doctors and nurses who cared for these patients (along with our ongoing “varsity” doctors, nurses, and staff) did so superbly and in the most family-centered way possible.

For those of you unfamiliar with what family-centered care is all about, it means making sure the family is not only the center of attention, but that families are considered partners and members of our care team.  Every morning, when we round (visit with each patient admitted to our hospital), rather than talk medical jargon in front of children and families , we talk with these families on our rounds in language that is easily understandable to parents, and to our patients, if they are old enough to want to understand what is going on.  We listen carefully to what parents and children ask of us, answer their questions, and go over plans for the day—plans that are jointly made and agreed upon by a patient’s health care provider team and the family.  This allows every child and family to be dealt with uniquely, to be valued as the centerpiece of our attention, and to feel they are being listened to and included as true members of our care team.

How do we know that our family-centered rounds are being well-received?  We ask families after they have stayed with us to answer a series of questions that are asked in other hospitals as well, and the satisfaction of our patients can then be compared with parents in other children’s hospitals.  Suffice it to say, our satisfaction ratings from families remain high compared to the rest of the country.  Equally important, families whose children were still being hospitalized told me repeatedly that they appreciated just how individualized their child’s care was and how much they felt like they were the only patient on the floor,  because we took the time to personalize their child’s care even when we had a full floor of patients.

So I hope those of you reading this blog realize how fortunate we are to have the care providers, the programs, and the facilities we can offer to the patients and families we serve at Vermont Children’s Hospital.  We always talk about providing “the best care from caring people” and “being there for our patients when they need us.”  After spending the month helping to oversee the care we provide for so many sick children night and day, weekdays and weekends, I can tell you that I am proud to work with the most caring, accessible, available, and responsible team of health care providers that make up our Vermont Children’s Hospital.  They truly are “First with Kids”!!

Lewis First, MD

P.S.  Don’t forget, it is not too late to register for our 10th annual Jeff Wyand Miracle Ride motorcycle rally on August 15.  This is the tenth year of the rally and the first year that hundreds of bikers will be riding on the Vermont rather than the New York side of the Lake—starting from the parking lot of our hospital and ending up at Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, our summer camp for children with cancer in North Hero.  If you ride a motorcycle or know someone who does, you or they can register for this ride that helps our children and their families with pediatric cancer to make sure they have whatever they need to keep their care local—whether it be equipment, special programs and support services for the overall physical and mental health of these special patients and their families.  Get your motors running by calling 802-847-1010 or registering online for this event at www.jeffwyandride.org.  Join us for a great event for our children’s hospital and the many pediatric cancer patients we serve in Vermont and upstate New York!  See you there!

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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