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Expert Pediatric Care Within the Community

woman with baby

Meghan Katz of Darien will always remember St. Patrick’s Day 2022 as the glorious day when Dylan – born at 27 weeks of gestation – finally came home after spending 63 days in Greenwich Hospital’s Level III-B Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). “We were thrilled,” said Katz.

Yet amid the joy was a trace of sadness about saying goodbye to the neonatologists, pediatric specialists and subspecialists, specially trained nurses, speech therapist, occupational therapist and physical therapist who helped Dylan thrive when he was the most vulnerable.

“The NICU staff became part of my family,” said Katz, who has three boys under the age of 3. “It was amazing to have such a great team close to home.”

Katz is among the growing number of parents who recognize that everything their child needs from a top-ranked children’s hospital is now close by at Greenwich Hospital. With its long tradition of providing exceptional pediatric care, Greenwich Hospital has partnered with Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital (YNHCH) and Yale Medicine to enhance its continuum of pediatric inpatient, emergency medicine, surgical and specialty ambulatory care. Plans are also underway to open an Ambulatory Surgery Center specifically for children and adolescents.

Coverage is available around the clock with Yale Medicine pediatric hospitalists caring for children in the inpatient unit and YNHCH pediatric emergency medicine physicians caring for them in the Emergency Department. The YNHCH Pediatric Specialty Center in Greenwich provides families with access to nationally ranked specialties and expert providers. Telehealth capabilities allow families and providers to easily consult with Yale Medicine specialists.

“Parents have peace of mind with the added level of support and expertise that our pediatric specialists and subspecialists bring to Greenwich Hospital,” said Karen Santucci, MD, chief medical officer and and board-certified pediatric emergency medicine physician.

Nuanced care

Seth Woolf, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatric emergency medicine physician examines a patient

Pediatric specialists have specific training and experience diagnosing and treating infants, children and teens. They know how to establish an instant rapport with kids, providing assurances they’re in a safe, friendly place. They also collaborate with community pediatricians to ensure continuity of care for each patient.

“Our clinical training helps us navigate the nuances and subtleties of caring for children and teens. We work with the family and the child to hone in on exactly what’s going on,” said Seth Woolf, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatric emergency medicine physician. Nearly 25 percent of the roughly 40,000 patients treated in the Emergency Department each year are children and adolescents. A separate pediatric waiting room – featuring a virtual fish tank, child-size furniture, age-appropriate books, TV programming and interactive media – helps to make a child’s visit less stressful. Kid-friendly decor makes the examination rooms more inviting.

A waiting room exclusively for pediatric patients

Rabia Malik, MD, is a pediatric hospitalist who cares for children in the inpatient Pediatric unit. “Pediatric specialists need to be versatile because each age comes with its own challenges,” she said. The unit’s nurturing and supportive environment addresses the needs of children, who may have difficulty expressing themselves, as well as families, who may be frightened. “Parents and guardians help us to make informed decisions,” she said. “My role is to listen to their concerns and determine how we can best work together to take care of their child.”

Going above and beyond

Meghan Katz appreciated the NICU’s family-centered care, especially since her previous experience with a NICU at a New York City hospital was less positive. “Everyone at Greenwich was so welcoming and approachable. I had direct access to the doctors and nurses. They were always available. They were truly invested in Dylan’s care,” she said.

Katz said the NICU staff went “above and beyond” when her entire family contracted COVID-19, meaning she could not visit Dylan for 10 days. “It was heartbreaking,” said Katz. NICU nurses and doctors jumped into action, sending pictures and setting up Zoom video calls so the entire family – including Dylan’s two big brothers – could visit with the newborn.

“A large part of what we do is take care of the entire family,” said Shruti Gupta, MD, a Yale Medicine neonatologist and the NICU’s medical director. “We focus on how to best increase the quality of life of the babies and their families.”

While their work setting may vary, pediatric specialists share the same belief that children – no matter what their age – are resilient. “Children are like Spider-Man,” said Daniel Solomon, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatric surgeon, referring to the superhero’s ability to heal faster than normal. “They want to heal. They will get better if you give them the opportunity.”