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Upstate University Hospital investing in new pediatric ER

Ellen Abbott
Upstate University Hospital emergency department chief Richard Cantor shows off the new pediatric ER space.

Upstate University Hospital is upgrading its pediatric emergency department, which will change the entire emergency room landscape at central New York’s biggest hospital.

Upstate pediatric emergency department chief Richard Cantor recently showed off the new unit, which is still under construction.

“This is the acute care, super sick kids are coming in here, and they’ll have direct line of sight from the nursing station, and you can see sliding glass doors, we have isolation rooms,” said Kantor.

This is just one of the features in the new pediatric emergency department, which is on the hospital’s fourth floor. Walls are brightly colored. Kid-friendly rooms offer video games. And the floor has its own radiology unit, which makes quick work of diagnosing a child’s broken bone. Canto says it will have all the bells and whistles that have become the standard in emergency pediatric care.

But the biggest draw says Cantor, is no waiting room. A child goes immediately into one of the floor’s 18 private exam rooms.

"We’ve always had a real problem downstairs controlling the environmental stressors that start out a care visit. But with this unit, a child will never see an adult in a waiting room. A child will be in a child-friendly room, architecturally, with a child life specialist. A child will never have anyone but family around them,” said Cantor.

The $3 million unit will open in August. One of the reasons the hospital is making this investments is because of the increase in patients coming through emergency rooms. Hospital officials say the pediatric ER used to get 12,000 to 18,000 patients a year. Now the number is just under 30,000.

The former pediatric space will be taken over by the adult emergency department, which will be able to add 13 beds.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.