Springfield Mercy will soon open new ER facility just for kids

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Nicholas Lockhart and his family are spending a sunny morning at Sequiota Park in Springfield on a visit from Kansas City. He and his wife Katie are swinging their sons, four year-old Henry and two year-old Harrison, on the playground equipment and needing emergency room treatment for their young ones is not on their minds.

But all parents know that could change in an instant.

“You never know,” Nicholas said. “Harrison has asthma. Henry is clumsy so he breaks ankles, had an arm that was sore one time and he broke a foot.”

Parents never know when they’ll need that help and now Mercy is about to open a 6,300-square-foot ER just for children like Henry and Harrison.

The facility is scheduled to open on Tuesday, June 8 and Mercy officials said it’s an idea whose time has come because the demand is there.

“It’s the first of its kind in southwest Missouri that will offer dedicated care for children who need emergency care,” said Mercy pediatrician Dr. Diane Lipscomb.

CoxHealth, Springfield’s other major health provider, does not have a separate ER for children but does have specialized facilities to care for them in its emergency department. They also have a pediatric urgent care that’s located separate from the hospital in the Turner Center on National Avenue.

Mercy’s new child ER is located next door to the adult ER in a refurbished northwest corner of the hospital. The kids ER has a separate child-friendly waiting room and 11 exam rooms.

So what’s different from the adult version?

“Kids have health needs, health conditions and equipment needs that are different from adults,” Lipscomb explained. “In a sense they are little people that need smaller things. So the pediatric emergency department is designed to care for children newborn-age up until the age of 17 or 18. That means we have to have equipment and supplies that care for children that might weight six pounds or that might weigh 250 pounds.”

The new addition also includes six new adult triage rooms, and you quickly notice that the child-version of the rooms includes bright colored designs on the ceiling that the adults don’t have.

“The kids will be given a game where they can find different items up there (on the ceiling) for distraction purposes,” said Vicki Good, Mercy’s ER Executive Director of Nursing.

There’s also a closet that will be full of books, toys and other things to play with to make the child’s ER less intimidating.

The Lockhart’s have been to a pediatric unit in Kansas City and say it does help soothe their children’s nerves.

“It’s a completely different experience,” Nicholas said. “They know how to talk to ‘em. They know how to deal with ‘em because they are upset. They’re sick. They’re hurt.”

“Pediatric specialists are aware and understand the scariness of being in an emergency department with your child,” Lipscomb said.

“Not to mention they get toys when they go to x-ray, stuff to make ‘em feel better,” Nicholas said with a smile.

Yeah.. it’s too bad the adults don’t get the same cool stuff like toys or candy when they go to the ER.

“I have never gotten a sucker,” Nicholas said. “I usually get a bill.”

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