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Vital Signs

Winter 2012

UCLA Expands Pediatric Services in Santa Monica

Thirty million children in the U.S. receive emergency care each year, and more than 3 million children are hospitalized for acute illnesses or injuries and chronic conditions. While increased demand for pediatric emergency and inpatient services have negatively impacted access to care for children in many communities, UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica is expanding access for children in the Santa Monica area as an extension of Westwood's Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA.

"The Santa Monica campus offers a nice blend of the personal touch of a hospital with a long history in the Santa Monica community and the clinical expertise and technologies traditionally only found in academic medical centers," says pediatrician Dennis Woo, M.D., past chair of the Department of Pediatrics at UCLA's Santa Monica hospital. "Most of the children will still receive continuity of care from their pediatrician, but they will also have access to UCLA specialists." 

The overall strategy is to handle patients requiring the most specialized care in Westwood while caring for more general pediatric conditions, such as asthma, infections, dehydration or diarrhea, at Santa Monica, Dr. Woo says. With the opening of the remodeled hospital, the inpatient pediatric unit at Santa Monica has expanded from 15 beds in non-private rooms to 26 beds in private "family" rooms where parents can spend the night with their children. It's a move Dr. Woo says will make it easier to admit pediatric patients directly from the Nethercutt Emergency Center at the Santa Monica hospital, which has been designated as an Emergency Department Approved for Pediatrics.

"Hospitalizations have a tremendous impact on children and their families," Dr. Woo says. "The minute they walk in the door, we're able to take care of each child, no matter what he or she needs."

"Children are not small adults," says Sherin Devaskar, M.D., physician in chief of Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA. "Our facilities bring together features and skills that do not exist in hospitals for adults only," Dr. Devaskar explains. A major goal of both facilities is to provide patient-centered care that empowers families to make well-informed decisions regarding the care of their children.

"We want to provide accessible, efficient, competent pediatric care that places children on healthy trajectories as they build their futures," Dr. Devaskar says.

In addition to the new Pediatric Unit at Santa Monica, the hospital also includes a five-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and plans to initiate an Adolescent Young Adult Cancer Program. "We anticipate being able to provide most pediatric subspecialty care to children who require it while hospitalized in this new unit within the Santa Monica community," Dr. Devaskar says.

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