A child wearing a facemask looks up at a doctor during a visit.

A partnership between UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and UPMC regional hospitals will expand pediatric emergency care in the communities we serve.

UPMC Children’s has affiliated with 16 different hospitals so far, including:

  • UPMC Central Pa.
  • UPMC North Central Pa.
  • UPMC Passavant
  • UPMC Hamot

The program will expand in the coming year to several more hospitals. Those include UPMC Altoona, UPMC Bedford, UPMC Chautauqua, UPMC Kane, UPMC Northwest, UPMC Somerset, and UPMC Western Maryland.

As part of this program, emergency providers at affiliated hospitals can connect via telemedicine to pediatric emergency specialists at UPMC Children’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Children can get the care they need, when they need it, at their local hospital.

“Our goal at UPMC Children’s is to share our world-renowned pediatric care whether it is in person or by leveraging technology,” said Mark Sevco, president, UPMC Hospitals.

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Why Is the UPMC Children’s Pediatric Emergency Affiliation Program Important?

Children account for 19.1% of emergency department visits nationwide, according to a report from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Many of those visits occur at adult hospitals, which may not have the resources to manage a pediatric patient.

The UPMC Children’s emergency affiliation program gives regional hospitals access to specialized pediatric emergency care. U.S. News & World Report ranks UPMC Children’s as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the United States.

“Not every city or region is lucky enough to have a large pediatric emergency referral center like we have in Pittsburgh,” said Stephen Janofsky, MD, director of outreach, pediatric emergency care, UPMC Children’s. “While at Children’s we have a full array of specially trained pediatric specialists, that’s obviously not true at every hospital across the country or across the region.”

Dr. Janofsky and Molly Gibson, RN, outreach nurse coordinator, UPMC Children’s, coordinate the affiliation program.

They lead a team of more than 100 pediatric champions at the partner hospitals. Those champions include doctors, nurses, emergency technicians, physicians’ assistants, nurse practitioners, and administrators.

“One of our key drivers is identifying those local pediatric champions who like and enjoy working with kids and want to help effect change in treating children in their regions,” Molly said.

How the UPMC Children’s Emergency Affiliation Program Works

Before implementing the full program of pediatric emergency care, experts from UPMC Children’s visit the emergency department at the partner hospital.

The visit helps UPMC Children’s experts get a sense of the way the partner hospital operates. During the visit, which lasts several hours, UPMC Children’s providers can:

  • Review equipment.
  • Talk to staff members.
  • Tour the emergency department.
  • Discuss policies and protocols.
  • Simulate pediatric emergency situations.

After the visit, dedicated teams at UPMC Children’s begin to implement other portions of the program, including the telemedicine and an “ER concierge” component. The time it takes to implement these portions varies by hospital.

With telemedicine, regional providers can connect with board-certified pediatric emergency specialists from UPMC Children’s if the provider or a patient’s family has questions. The UPMC Children’s specialists review the case, interact with the patient’s family, and provide their medical opinion as needed.

“We hope that we can help support those providers locally to manage more of those patients and families in place, when possible,” Dr. Janofsky said.

Telemedicine patients also can schedule follow-up visits with a UPMC Children’s subspecialist if necessary. UPMC Children’s has more than 400 doctors across 33 subspecialties.

In addition, UPMC Children’s holds regular meetings with the regional hospital pediatric champions to discuss cases and potential pediatric projects.

“We learn from these hospitals just as much as they learn from us,” Molly said. “Being able to have that group of champions that we can collaborate with consistently is really the key to success for this program.

“Maintaining that partnership and collaboration, constantly staying in contact, and constantly progressing forward allows us to take those things, implement them, and then make sure they’re sustainable in that particular facility.”

Benefits of UPMC Children’s Emergency Affiliation Program

The affiliation program provides support to regional emergency providers if they need help with pediatric cases.

“One of the common sayings in pediatric medicine is that kids are not just small adults,” Dr. Janofsky said. “The physiology and the way different diseases present in kids, there are distinct differences between pediatrics and adults.

“In areas where if they have a question, we’ll be able to help them provide care according to the standard of care at Children’s.”

Also, the program adds convenience for families. They can get access to the world-class care of UPMC Children’s at their own local hospital.

The affiliation program is a continuing partnership. The team from UPMC Children’s will continue to work with the regional hospitals. They hope to provide the best emergency care possible for children across all our communities. “We hope with this program, a lot more kids will be able to stay where they are and be managed at their local ED, at the hospitals they trust and with the doctors they know,” Dr. Janofsky said.

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.