Welcome to Baird 5, our Vermont Children’s Hospital 22- bed inpatient pediatric unit; located on the Medical Center Campus of the University of Vermont Medical Center. We are a “Children’s Hospital within a Hospital” which means that infants, children and adolescents are cared for by people who have the right skills, the right equipment and the right knowledge. I am the assistant nurse manager for the unit and have the privilege of working with a wonderful multidisciplinary team that includes families, nurses, doctors, child life specialists, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, therapists, nurse’s aides, therapy dogs and many others!
Most families who need to be in the hospital want to know three things:
What is the problem? How can it be treated? And when can we go home?
Each morning during Family Meeting time, we discuss these questions and together, we seek answers that will work best for the family. Patients and families participate in care and decision-making at the level they choose; and the healthcare team is sure that families receive timely, complete and accurate information. We recognize that each family is unique and know that vulnerable pediatric patients need their families and healthcare providers to work together to be as healthy as possible.
One of our most important goals is to make being in the hospital as “normal” as possible. We know this helps children feel safe and less stressed. We also know that children need their families in order to get better quicker, so we help parents and caregivers to be as involved as possible. We encourage children to wear their own clothes, eat with their families, stay in touch with their friends and we try to stick to home schedules as best we can. We have painted this unit with bright colors and have a hand-painted mural and various wall graphics. We have a playroom for young children with dedicated infant space, and a teen room with appropriate distraction opportunities; because we know that play is absolutely necessary for healing. For parents and caregivers, we are fortunate to have a Ronald McDonald House Room on the unit; offering laundry, shower, food, and a computer, in an apartment-like living space. The Vermont Family Network Room also offers private space with a resource library and an experienced parent is available to offer support to families in need.
Baird 5 staff partner with patients and families to provide Family-Centered Care. Family-Centered Care is a philosophy that recognizes the importance of working together to improve the healthcare experience and enhance quality, safety and efficiency. There are four important principles of Family-Centered Care that we strive to incorporate into each day: dignity and respect, information-sharing, participation, and collaboration. This past year we have put these principles into action by establishing a Patient and Family Advisory Council for Baird 5. With the help of some very talented families who have had children on Baird 5; we are joining together to make positive differences for pediatric patients and the unit.
One topic the group hopes to work on is navigation: the experienced families know how hard it is to learn to live in the hospital when a child is sick. As a pediatric nurse, I, too, see the many challenges families face; such as how to care for the sick child and meet the needs of all the other family members. Together, we’ll propose some solutions to see if we can make things easier for everyone. Stay tuned for stories of our amazing efforts!
Tracy Wagner is the assistant nurse manager of Baird 5, our inpatient pediatric unit at Vermont Children’s Hospital.