Paying special attention to our smallest patients

Taking a child to the hospital is scary for any parent. It becomes more stressful when it happens the night of a big holiday. Shortly after Thanksgiving dinner, Stephanie Adams had to rush her five-year-old daughter Knolyn to Bayhealth Milford Memorial after she developed a high fever and had trouble breathing shortly after Thanksgiving dinner.

Soon after arriving to the hospital, Adams was told Knolyn needed to be hospitalized. Knolyn was transferred to the Pediatric Unit at Bayhealth Kent General in Dover and admitted by a pediatric hospitalist. A “hospitalist” is a doctor who specializes in taking care of patients admitted to the hospital.

“Because my family lives in Dover and I have other children at home, staying at Kent General really helped us,” said Adams. Knolyn was quickly seen by a pediatric hospitalist.

The pediatric hospitalist program is a partnership between Bayhealth Kent General and Christiana Care Health System to provide pediatric hospitalists on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Since most pediatricians focus on seeing patients in their office, pediatric hospitalists can oversee all medical treatment in the hospital, from admission to discharge. This includes examinations, ordering tests and medications and addressing any questions or concerns from family members. The hospitalists also work with each child’s pediatrician to assure a smooth transition into and out of the hospital.

“It is stressful for any parent to have their child admitted to the hospital,” said Cem Soykan, MD, team leader of the pediatric hospitalists at Bayhealth. “When you add travel to a distant hospital, it just compounds the stress for families. As pediatric hospitalists, we really want to keep the children close to home whenever we can.”

Knolyn stayed in the hospital for a full week. “She had a true bacterial pneumonia, which isn’t as common in children nowadays due to vaccination that helps prevent pneumonia,” said Dr. Soykan.

Dr. Soykan was part of a team of pediatric hospitalists who helped treat Knolyn. Dr. Soykan saw Knolyn just as she was beginning to improve. Adams recalls the time Dr. Soykan spent talking to her to ensure she understood the diagnosis and her daughter’s course of treatment.

“I really want to make sure the parents of our patients truly understand what is going on,” said Dr. Soykan. “In Knolyn’s case, I made it very clear to her mother that she was battling a truly bad case of pneumonia and it would probably be another few days before she could go home. We needed to make sure she was really better before we could discharge her.”

During her hospital stay, Knolyn and her mom became very close with the Pediatric Department staff.

“The staff was just wonderful. The nurses were so good with my daughter,” said Adams. “You could just tell how much they cared about their jobs and how much they cared about their patients.”

Being close to home made all the difference for the Adams family. “This was an extremely scary experience for my family,” said Adams. “It was a huge relief that we could be together. It gave us the opportunity to make sure someone was always with Knolyn during her stay.”

During her stay at the hospital, little Knolyn made quite an impression on her caregivers.

“The nurses loved Knolyn,” said Dr. Soykan. “Her mother was so nice and engaging. We take care of so many lovely families here, and it’s just so nice to see a patient who almost becomes adopted by the nursing staff.”

As soon as Knolyn was discharged, she was back to her usual activities, playing football outside with her brother or doing arts and crafts inside. All she wanted was to be back with her siblings.

“My children are so close,” said Adams. “Knolyn really missed them while she was in the hospital. Being close to home for her treatment helped keep our family close together during this tough time.”