By KAI GAMMAGE
Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) recently opened up a new section to its emergency department devoted entirely to younger patients in need.
The new Child and Youth Emergency Zone is “designed to treat children and youth under 18 years of age in East Toronto who need urgent or acute medical care when their paediatrician or family doctor is not available” according to a press release from the East York hospital.
The zone began operations in November and the team at MGH has already noted remarkable improvements in the department’s ability to serve younger patients. Making the emergency department (ED) a more welcoming space has left children less intimidated by the hospital experience.
“Kids want to be with kids, families want to be with families. Parents supporting parents while they’re waiting” said Dr. Kyle Vojdani, the Chief and Medical Director of the Emergency Department (ED) at MGH.
“This sort of environment can be frightening, so being able to cohort family, youth and kids in one space has been positive. Parents supporting parents while they’re waiting.”
To make a more welcoming and attractive space, the new zone is fitted with features that might not generally be synonymous with hospitals. Colourful paintings of butterflies, owls, and birds are sure to grab people’s attention and distract from the fact they’re in a hospital.
Additionally, literacy is encouraged in this space, and if a child likes a book they picked up while waiting, they are more than welcome to take it home. Games are also placed all over the area, in case that’s the best form of distraction for some youths.
“These are patients that are uniquely innocent, together in a safe and inviting space.” said Dr. Vojdani. “That being said, it is the emergency deptarment. so if you have to be here, it’s our attempt to make the whole experience less frightening.”
A priority of this new section was versatility and creating a one-size fits all department for youth in need. Whatever your issue may be, from flu and COVID-19 symptoms, to physical injuries to mental health crises, the new department is open for any and all under the age of 18.
“There has been a significant surge in patients that need acute mental health services throughout the pandemic,” said Dr. Vojdani. “The lack of connections and isolation has been significant. We have seen that especially in our younger patients.”
Doctors at MGH saw the need for a more child and youth oriented zone at the hospital during COVID-19’s fourth wave. During that time it was much harder for doctors to see patients at community offices.
Furthermore, the fourth wave saw a paediatric surge that ended up engulfing places facilities such as Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital with high patient volumes. This new zone is a response to that surge.
“The MGH emergency department is open seven days a week. If your child is sick, if you are worried, if you feel like this is something that cannot wait, we want you to come. We don’t want parents to be nervous about being able to access the care they need,” added Dr. Vojdani.
Most family paediatricians aren’t available 24 hours a day, but that doesn’t stop children and parents from needing urgent care at all hours. The new zone is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. every day.
If urgent care outside of those hours is needed, patients are encouraged to go to the regular emergency department to seek help.
For more information on emergency care at Michael Garron Hospital, please go to https://www.tehn.ca/programs-services/emergency-department