For a parent, there’s nothing more challenging than a suffering child. Whether a child is having problems breathing, an unexplained ferocious fever or any of a hundred other things, parents need answers and solutions — and they need them fast.
For the sickest of children, nearby intensive care facilities can make all the difference. However, for generations, Utah Valley residents have needed to travel an hour north to receive specialized pediatric intensive care.
But not any more.
Since August 2017, Timpanogos Regional Hospital has housed a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), led by Dr. Dustin Monroe, a pediatric intensivist and medical director.
“We are set up to take care of kids. Period,” Dr. Monroe says. “We are a community hospital and we work to meet the medical needs of our local community. It’s easier on the patient and their loved ones if those needs can be met closer to home.”
While the PICU is well-equipped to treat local children, it is one part of a larger dedication to pediatrics employed by Timpanogos Regional Hospital.
Kid-friendly emergency services
The PICU is conveniently located directly above the hospital’s kid-friendly emergency room, allowing for efficient diagnosis and immediate available care.
“We work closely with the emergency room physicians,” Dr. Monroe says. “We have examination rooms in the ER dedicated to pediatric patients and consistently train staff on conditions and concerns that more often affect children.”
For more complicated pediatric concerns, Dr. Monroe quickly gets involved and oversees care of the child during the hospital stay.
Hospital staff understand that children often have a more difficult time laying still for diagnostic tests like computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or X-rays. To help patients, Timpanogos Regional Hospital professionals can administer sedation to help children during particularly stressful tests.
“It can be a challenge for adults to be in an MRI machine for 45 minutes, let alone children,” Dr. Monroe says. “Sedation is another way to assist our pediatric patients.”
Once a month, staff from all areas of the hospital — and from other facilities throughout the state — participate in a concentrated training session that includes break outs, hands-on training
and lectures by local pediatric specialists.
“Children aren’t just smaller adults, so we want to make sure our staff is up-to-date on the latest information and techniques to offer the level of care our patients need,” Dr. Monroe says.
Increasing pediatric specialties
Dr. Monroe and the other caregivers at Timpanogos Regional Hospital are dedicated to always doing what’s right for the patient. That means while the hospital’s services grow, there will be times when patients require trips north to other facilities.
“We know our limitations and we will always make decisions with the patient’s well-being as the No. 1 priority,” he says. “But we are working on increasing our capacity all the time and are excited by the response from local specialists looking to join the team.”
The pediatric team at the hospital already includes pediatric craniofacial, cardiology, gastroenterology (GI), and ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists. A general surgeon is also on the way, meaning more surgeries will be able to be performed in Orem instead of Salt Lake City.
An outpatient pediatric clinic — run by the hospital, but available for specialists to have convenient office consultations — has made it easier and more appealing for subspecialists to come down to Utah Valley.
“We’re still developing our team, but we are extremely happy with the level of care we can offer to families and children already,” Dr. Monroe says. “We also look forward to increasing our capabilities in the months and years to come.”