Health Check: Pediatric care for the South Coast

Two-year-old Charlotte Silveira is familiar with the playroom at St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford. She spent a few days there late last year.

"She had two seizures as a result of an underlying kidney infection, and when we finally figured out what was going on with her, her condition was getting worse," said Charlotte's mother, Stephanie.

Stephanie considered taking her daughter to Boston for care. But then her pediatrician suggested St. Luke's.

"They had full knowledge of Charlotte's condition and what was going on with her at the time, and they had a tentative plan in place to start a new round of treatment," Stephanie said.

That's because just a few months before Charlotte's visit, in September of last year, Boston Children's physicians, working in collaboration with local doctors, were providing around the clock emergency pediatric care for people living in the South Coast region.

"One of the missions of the program has been to keep care local," said Dr. Brian Sard, the medical director of pediatrics at St. Luke's for the Boston Children's Hospital program.

There is now an area dedicated to pediatric care in the emergency department and a kid-friendly in-patient unit for pediatric patients who need to be admitted.

There are five in-patient pediatric rooms, and all of them are spacious for a reason.

"For example, in (one) room, you can have a child in the crib and their parents can stay in the hospital bed next to them," Sard said.

There's a play area, and the approach they take here is family-centered.

"That means the physician who's caring for the patient on that particular day meets with the nurse and the family with the patient in the room to discuss the plan of action for the day," Sard said.

"They kept me involved in all of the information about her testing and her blood work coming back," Stephanie said.

The collaboration is a big deal for the South Coast region because it allows families to remain local for their child's care while at the same time ensuring them they're getting the best care.