Anne Arundel Medical Center's new care model transforms pediatric unit

A pediatrician and his patient

Photo credit: Getty/shironosov

A Maryland hospital's decision to combine its pediatric emergency department and inpatient unit has paid off in big ways: cutting costs and improving quality.

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The inpatient pediatric unit at Anne Arundel Medical Center, a 380-bed hospital in Annapolis, Maryland, had high costs and, though children were treated well in the organization's emergency department, hospital leaders decided that wasn’t the appropriate place for them, according to an article in Hospitals & Health Networks.

So staff followed a model used by other Maryland hospitals and developed a blended pediatric unit that offered both inpatient and emergency care, using the same team.

The unit, which opened in April 2011, has an eight-bed ED and an eight-bed inpatient ward, according to the article. A unified nursing corridor runs between the two, and if demand on either side is too great, staff can switch the beds to accommodate those patients.

Anne Arundel's unit now handles 18,000 pediatric emergency visits a year and about 1,000 inpatients, according to the article. With combined pediatric emergency and inpatient treatments, the unit is far more financially viable, and it keeps children from being transferred out of the local community and into a larger, urban children’s hospital, Michael Clemmens, M.D., director of pediatrics at the hospital, told H&HN.

“The hospital still has to pay a bit of a supplement because of the inpatient care that’s required,” Clemmens told the publication. “But the dollars spent to supplement the program dropped dramatically once the pediatricians started seeing emergency patients.”

The pediatric emergency department handles both major and minor conditions, and is able to transfer patients with life-threatening injuries or illnesses to larger pediatric hospitals like Johns Hopkins in Baltimore or Children’s National Health System in the District of Columbia, Clemmens said.

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