Wesley Children’s Hospital in Wichita opened its newly renovated pediatric emergency department May 17 and announced a $17 million, phase two construction and service expansion plan to the hospital, which opened in 2016.
Bryan Henderson, Medical Director of Wesley’s pediatric ER in Wichita, told dozens of people at the May 17 opening of the expanded ER that the $2 million upgrade came at a critical time, as children’s visits to the ER have grown 10 to 15 percent each year for the past three years.
Wesley Hospital has had a pediatric ER since 2007, and in recent years, it’s seen a steady growth in visits. ER visits for children have increased by 10 to 15 percent each year for the past three years, says Bill Voloch, Wesley Healthcare CEO.
This past winter was a particularly busy one due to the flu season, says Bryan Henderson, MD, Medical Director of the pediatric ER. Visits nearly doubled, from seeing about 35 to 50 patients in 12 hours to 75 to 90 patients in 12 hours, Dr. Henderson notes.
The $2 million pediatric ER expansion added four exams rooms, bringing the total to 14, and more child-friendly décor and equipment, such as signage and wall hangings depicting animals, bright wall colors in the exam rooms, decorated rolling nursing stations and even a slushy machine. For the medical staff, the doctors’ lounge and sleep area was also renovated.
Voloch says construction to expand the hospital is expected to start this fall. Once the work is completed in late 2019, Wesley will relocate its pediatric sedation and dialysis services to the children’s hospital and add an on-site pediatric pharmacy, which will be particularly beneficial for growing pediatric oncology services, Voloch says. There will also be room for child life programs and volunteers in the new space.
Voloch says the opening of the children’s hospital, the expanded pediatric ER and the phase two construction will mean “a $50 million investment that Wesley and HCA have made into the kids of this community.”
It’s also meant bringing in 32 new pediatricians and specialists to treat kids. Some specialties are new or have not been available for at least the past 10 years in Wichita, such as pediatric urology, pediatric pulmonology and pediatric plastics, Voloch says. Demand for nursing staff has also increased.
In addition to keeping more children closer to home for care, Wesley has seen an increase in patients coming to Wesley for care from cities in north-central and southwest Kansas, as well as Colorado and Oklahoma, since the hospital opened, officials say.