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Pediatric Suite Lets Patients Travel From Mars To Mountaintops



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Pediatric Suite Lets Patients Travel From Mars To Mountaintops

By Larissa Lytwyn

Despite major advances in technology, medical treatment, and patient care in recent years, hospitals have not entirely escaped their cold, clinical mystique.

Except, perhaps, Galante Pediatric Suite, the new youth wing of Danbury Hospital’s emergency department.

The suite is comprised of four uniquely themed rooms: America, featuring mountain-tipped open fields and eagle-shaped clouds; Space, characterized by planet Earth and a NASA rocket; Under the Sea, offering visitors a deep-sea glimpse of whales, starfish, and other creatures; and African Safari, featuring grasslands dotted with zebra, lions, and giraffe.

A major player behind the suite’s creation, which has been up-and-running since September 24, is the Galante family of New Fairfield.

Roseanne and James Galante know firsthand how difficult a visit to the emergency room can be.

“Once, when my son AJ was young, he was hospitalized for a 105 degree temperature,” Ms Galante. “It was his first visit to the emergency room.”

She never forgot how agitated her suffering young son became in the hectic environment. “It was not easy,” Ms Galante said.

Years later, Ms Galante and her husband James, owner of a highly successful automated waste disposal company, decided to make a charitable contribution to a local community organization or business.

“We wanted to do something a little bit different,” Ms Galante said. “We sought to create something that would really last.”

The Galante family soon heard about efforts to renovate the emergency wing of Danbury Hospital from former First Selectwoman Cheryl Reedy, a friend of Ms Galante’s.

Ms Galante was inspired by the ideas of Dr Patrick Broderick, chair of the hospital’s emergency medicine department.

Dr Broderick wanted to fuse four newly partitioned rooms, the soon-to-be pediatric suite, into a central child-centered theme, or series of themes. His aim was to help make the hospital experience a bit less intimidating for already distressed youngsters.

“The idea was to create murals conveying different landscapes in each room,” said Ms Galante. “It wasn’t going to be anything very young or Sesame Street. The suite, after all, serves patients up to 17 years old.”

The total cost of renovating the pediatric suite was approximately $350,000. The Galante family donated $250,000 to the project.

“It was exciting to be a part of something that could last, something that could really be appreciated,” said Ms Galante.

Danbury Hospital operates one of the busiest emergency departments in the state of Connecticut. Last year, 20 percent of the emergency department’s 65,000 visits were comprised of children under the age of 18.

The hospital also serves a highly diverse number of patients from the greater Danbury area, including Newtown, New Milford, New Fairfield, Bethel, Danbury, Ridgefield, Redding, and western New York.

Dr Broderick, a father of five children ranging in age from 11 to 25, was passionate about the pediatric suite project.

“It was really a team effort,” he said.

Plenty of input on what the murals should depict was delivered from many sources, from emergency room personnel to Dr Broderick’s own family.

Dr Broderick’s wife Linda found the website of a company that specialized in producing predesigned murals for wall surfaces.

After much discussion, the final America, space, safari, and sea designs were selected and delivered to the hospital within weeks. The murals were installed within days and decals unique to each room’s theme were applied to the glass entrance doors to prevent anyone from walking head-on into the glass.

Each room’s medical equipment is consolidated in the back of the room, concealed under a steel curtain.

A special ceremony commemorating the dedication of the pediatric suite to the Galante family was held on September 14 and some of children attended attired in a theme connected to each room.

“It was a great culminating event,” said Dr Broderick. “It truly brought everything together.”

In addition to the specialized murals, each room is equipped with a full-service television and DVD player stocked with family films. “While the child can choose to watch anything they want, each room’s DVD selection plays to its theme,” Dr Broderick said. “In the Under the Sea room, for example, we have Finding Nemo.

“It’s really important for children to feel that they have choices, especially in a medical environment,” Dr Broderick said. “We can help provide that through allowing them to choose which room they want to be in, whether or not they want to watch television or a film, and, if so, which program they want to watch.”

He emphasized the necessity of being able to communicate directly with children.

“Oftentimes the parent will answer for the child,” Dr Broderick said. “But it is necessary for me to be able to better diagnose [the condition] by speaking with the child one-on-one, provided the child is capable of doing so, of course.”

Speaking with children directly, he continued, allows him to assess both the young patient’s verbal and nonverbal cues.

“I can tell, for example, if the child is in pain simply by talking,” he said. “Communicating with any patient directly allows the doctor to better assess the nature of the problem.”

At the end of each stay, the child and his or her family can choose to watch a film on safety education.

“We really want to help the child and their family receive the best care possible, not just medically, but in terms of preventative care, as well,” said Dr Broderick.

He suggested the mural-themed pediatric suite could be part of a larger trend in hospitals providing more comfortable environments for their patients.

“A lot of adults want to be able to stay up on the action of their daily lives,” he said, “particularly the working adults. They want to have Internet access and be in touch.”

He said the hospital is in a continuing effort to “build that phase.”

“We’re always working [at Danbury Hospital] to provide better care, in all areas,” Dr Broderick said.

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