Medical Unit

Sept. 12, 2019 – Moments into meeting up with the leadership staff of our approximately 150-person medical unit team, I was glad I wore comfortable shoes — the patient care areas in which these hardworking professionals serve take up quite a bit of real estate in both the ACP and Rose Pavilion, and I was in for a grand tour! We began on the fourth floor of the ACP, where team members including Medical Unit Director Erin Costa, Medical Unit Manager Jill Greenberg and Clinical Nurse Specialist Cindy Lewis led me through the many hallways of the pulmonary unit. I learned that the 28 rooms are open to general care patients, as well as patients whose care requires equipment such as ventilators and trach tubes. Erin noted that because of this specialized level of care, the unit tends to stay very busy, particularly because all rehabilitation medicine patients with trach tubes stay here.

Cindy told me that the minimum stay on this unit is usually about 10 days, but sometimes, patients can stay for years. That makes keeping their stay as fun as possible all the more important, and medical unit staff have many strategies on hand to help. For example, they work with the child life team on a program called Love Your Lungs, which incentivizes patients with cystic fibrosis — a condition that often requires frequent and/or long-term hospital stays — to work toward fun prizes when they accomplish key tasks related to their care.

As we worked our way through the unit, I decided to kick off trick-or-treating a bit early. Since so many members of the medical unit staff needed to stay at their posts, I walked from nurses’ station to nurses’ station to say “hello,” chat a bit and pass out some of my signature cookies.

We then moved down to the second floor of Rose for a tour of the team’s additional space — they are actually the only Rady Children’s unit with two physical locations in the Hospital. Jill noted they cover care for myriad specialty areas; including pulmonary, neurology, GI, renal and endocrinology; and that while many members of the care team stay on the pulmonary unit, there are quite a few who travel back and forth. Never a dull moment for this busy team!

Fun fact: Each floor of the ACP and Rose Pavilion are decorated with a different, kid-friendly theme. I was flying through space on the fourth floor, and then dove under the sea on the second. As we walked, Cindy pointed out all of the special touches the muralist added when painting the walls, such as treasure maps that send kids on a scavenger hunt and sea creatures that use medical devices and medications just like our patients do. What a sweet and clever way to help our kids know they are not alone in their health care experience.

Inside the medical/surgical unit, I gained some insights into how this large group runs so efficiently. For instance, they use a comprehensive map that tracks each nurse and their respective assignments on each pod. It’s smart ideas like these that help make our care team so great at what they do, and, most importantly, optimize the care each of our patients receives. This team will also be getting a big technological boost in streamlining its operations even further — as of publishing, they’ll be one of the first Rady Children’s units to have active use of Rover! I also caught a (very quiet) glimpse of our sleep study area, and learned how we use secure technology to allow physicians and other staff to remotely keep an eye on study participants while maintaining their privacy.

A great poster covering an extremely important topic, with bonus points for a clever title

We then traveled to a conference room, where the team had set up a number of posters showcasing important work they’ve done to enhance protocols in critical areas such as safe sleep, patient flow communication and secondary notifications. Cindy walked me through her project, safe sleep, and explained how she and her colleagues are working to make Rady Children’s a leader in safe sleep standards and family education. She even traveled to a national conference in Washington, D.C. this past April! Erin also explained how one of her collaborative projects, focused on updating communication processes between emergency department and unit staff, helped reduce patient transfer time from emergency to inpatient care by 14 percent. It was so encouraging to see how much effort this team puts into ensuring they’re on the leading edge of health care systems and protocols — it supports teamwork and the best possible care for our patients.

With pride in my heart, a delicious sandwich in my hand (thanks for taking care of me at lunchtime, team) and my passport stamped, I headed back to the EOB. Thank you, medical unit, for an eye-opening and interesting visit … and for helping me get my steps in for the day!