For the last four years, Whitney and Matt Marcuzzo have made the drive from their Germantown, Tenn., home to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital dozens of times.
Having a son with multiple, life-threatening health conditions, they’re forced to make the nearly 30-minute trip from their suburban home to Le Bonheur, located in the heart of downtown Memphis, almost every month. After Le Bonheur opened its new pediatric units inside Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital in early 2016, the Marcuzzos rested easier knowing that Le Bonheur doctors are now only a few minutes away from their home.
“Being a mom of a medically fragile child, we’re blessed to have Le Bonheur in our backyard,” Marcuzzo said. “For parents, it’s important to know that they have a team from Le Bonheur nearby that’s highly trained and who can take care of your sick child.”
Having a pediatric emergency department and inpatient unit in Germantown, one of Memphis’ largest suburbs, is important to the community, as it provides children and parents who live in the eastern portion of Memphis’ Shelby County fast access to Le Bonheur doctors, said Barry Gilmore, MD, medical director of Emergency Services at Le Bonheur Children’s. The time saved can be life changing.
“Emergencies involving children are time sensitive,” Gilmore said. “Having immediate access to advanced pediatric emergency care is critical to ensure the best outcomes.”
Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital pediatric units include an eight-bed Emergency Department and a 12-bed pediatric inpatient unit. Le Bonheur pediatric hospitalists, pediatric emergency medicine specialists, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers and child life specialists serve the units. Doctors have quick access to specialists at Le Bonheur in downtown Memphis via telehealth or Germantown-based pediatric transfer services, if needed. So far, patient numbers have been high. In its first five months, the Emergency Department has seen more than 5,300 children, and more than 330 have been admitted. On average, patients are seen by a provider in fewer than 30 minutes.
Whitney Marcuzzo credits the new Germantown location for saving her son, Louie, who came to the Emergency Department in March when he had difficulty breathing and was wheezing. As soon as Louie arrived, Le Bonheur staff began breathing treatments on the 4-year-old.
“There were so many in the room that were focused only on us, and we felt like royalty,” Marcuzzo said. “When your child is sick, you want to go where everyone knows what they are doing, and that’s what I felt when we went to Germantown.”
Lelon Edwards, MD, a community pediatrician with Pediatrics East in Germantown said the opening of the new pediatric units at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital not only helps reduce travel time for patients, but it’s also comforting for parents like the Marcuzzos to know Le Bonheur’s expert care is always nearby.
“Most illnesses and injuries sustained do not require the expertise of a regional pediatric hospital,” Edwards said. “But it is very important to have that option available if the severity of illness warrants stepping up to the next level.”
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