Booster shot for children's health Pediatric unit continues local hospital's evolution into complete center.

April 02, 1997

THE OPENING OF Howard County General Hospital's pediatric unit Monday marks a major step in the delivery of health services to county children. It also continues the health system's rapid growth from a community hospital into a complete medical center.

The colorful new Children's Care Center should be more convenient for parents of sick or injured youths. Until now, most Howard children requiring inpatient treatment had to be transported to pediatric units elsewhere in Maryland. The unit, complementing an array of other new facilities at the hospital, should help keep patients and their health care dollars in the county.

Administrators expect the unit to treat 6,000 patients annually, from newborns to 16-year-olds. From the beginning of their treatment, children will receive care in a setting more comfortable than the previous set-up.

The unit is in a wing of the hospital that has a three-bed emergency department staffed by 10 full-time and part-time pediatricians and 25 nurses and technicians. Separating young patients from adults in the emergency room is a major improvement.

The emergency room is conveniently located in an area that also has a two-bed observation area and a four-bed inpatient area. A nice touch is artwork done by 28 elementary and middle school students from around the county.

Construction and renovation at and around HCGH have been almost constant in recent years as the hospital seeks to integrate health-care services at its West Columbia campus. The hospital opened in 1973 with 59 beds. It now is part of the Howard Health System, with 233 beds and facilities for women's services, surgery, medicine, cardiology, oncology, gerontology, psychiatry, rehabilitation, orthopedics and community health.

Victor A. Broccolino has overseen much of the growth since becoming the hospital's president in 1990. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Children's Care Center, he remarked, "This is without question the most exciting day of my health-care career."

It will not often be an exhilarating day for children when they come to the pediatric unit, but the center should alleviate some of the discomfort of staying in a hospital.

Pub Date: 4/02/97

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