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Physicians Update


Physicians Update

Summer 2009

Santa Monica Expands Its Pediatric Service


Pediatric ServicesAs UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica expands, it has significantly increased its services to pediatric patients. In the past, the hospital had six-to-eight pediatric beds; currently, there are 15 beds as the hospital transitions to a new facility that will ultimately house 26 beds. Moreover, the introduction a year ago of a four-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) has enabled the hospital to provide comprehensive services to the community’s pediatric population. The PICU is the first of its kind in Santa Monica.

The addition of a larger general pediatrics unit and a PICU at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, staffed by the faculty of Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, brings to the local community the quality of pediatric care for which UCLA is known. “We have a much greater capacity to meet all of the needs of patients, including the sickest children,” says Dennis Woo, M.D., the medical center’s former chair of pediatrics. “It means families in Santa Monica can stay closer to home, and we are able to provide the subspecialty expertise and range of services of a tertiary hospital.”

The expansion has affected a wide range of pediatric services. James Lin, M.D., pediatric intensivist, notes that the availability of a PICU enables orthopaedists at the hospital to perform more complicated surgeries. There is now a growing head-and-neck service, as well as pediatric general surgery at the facility. Introduction of the PICU has also resulted in a rapid expansion of pulmonology and cardiology services. Pediatric social work and child life services have also taken on greater roles due to the growing complexity of pediatric cases. “Just having the PICU allows pediatricians to admit a wider range of patients than they previously could,” Dr. Lin says.

In addition to the new 2,500-square-foot PICU, UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is treating a broader range of infants, says Marianne Anderson, M.D., director of the NICU, including low-birthweight infants as well as late-preterm infants — babies born between 34 weeks and 36 weeks/six days. Recent treatment advances now enable NICU medical staff to wean these babies from mechanical ventilation in less time before they are placed on other forms of therapy, such as continuous positive airway pressure and high-flow nasal cannula. Advances in the use of parenteral and small-enteral nutrition also have helped to maximize the growth and development of preterm infants, Dr. Anderson notes.

Santa Monica Pediatric Services Dr. Anderson adds that the NICU emphasizes a family-centered approach in which parents are encouraged to be actively involved in the care and management plans and to spend as much time as they would like with the child. “No matter what their gestational age, babies know who their parents are and respond to their mothers and fathers in a unique way,” Dr. Anderson says. “To some extent, having a preterm baby means a loss of control for parents at a time when their instincts are to want to take care of the baby, so any way we can support their being more involved goes a long way toward supporting the whole family.”

Among other things, Dr. Anderson explains, that means assisting the mother with breastfeeding and use of her breast milk, as well as providing developmentally supportive care for the infant that involves both parents.

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