New emergency treatment center designed with children in mind

By Lynn R. Parks

A trip to the emergency room might not be so scary as it once was for children in western Sussex County, thanks to the new Pegeen and Samantha Brown Pediatric Area. The children's treatment area at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, created in the memory of a mother and daughter who died last year within a month of each other, was unveiled Monday evening to a crowd of more than 100. Tom Brown, Pegeen's husband and Samantha's father, told the crowd that he and his daughter, Annie, will take great comfort in the children's treatment area. Brown is also vice president of marketing and development for the hospital. "Young people have always been important to Pegeen and me," he said. "I didn't care much about the details of the area. I just wanted to make sure that it would be a tribute to Pegeen and Sam, that it would be a friendly place for children and that it would be a good place for the staff to do their work." Annedreea Webber, critical care director at Nanticoke, said that the Brown Pediatric Area will mean better treatment for the children who come to the emergency department. The bright colors and whimsical photographs will remind staff that children should be treated differently from adults, she said. "Kids are not just little adults," she said. "They need to be spoken to differently, and need to be made to feel comfortable." The Pegeen and Samantha Brown Pediatric Fund that paid for the new treatment area also pays for training for staff on how to treat children, she added. Dr. Anthony Policastro, pediatrician with Nanticoke, said that the Brown Pediatric Area will be a much more pleasant place for children who come to the emergency department. While children with medical emergencies used to be admitted for hospital stays of up to 72 hours, new medicines and treatment methods mean that sick children can often go home after no more than 12 hours in an emergency room. "This is an ideal location for them to wait and for us to monitor them," said Policastro, sitting in a beach-themed children's treatment room. "This is much better than sitting in a cold emergency room, a much better atmosphere." The new treatment room features murals on two walls. In one mural, two beach chairs sit on a sunny beach. In another, clear containers of candy, much like the containers of sweets at a beach candy store, are lined up, waiting for someone to pick a favorite. A dog waits happily underneath the jellies.

A third mural is an underwater scene, complete with starfish, dolphins and treasure chests. In all the murals, there are hidden shamrocks. Both Pegeen and Samantha were very proud of their Irish heritage, Tom Brown said. Helen O'Neill, 7, is Pegeen Brown's niece and traveled with her mother, Siovhan, from their home in Baltimore to be at the treatment area opening. After the ceremony, she counted the hidden shamrocks in the treatment room. "I've got 26 so far," she announced to a visitor entering the room. All of the treatment rooms in the pediatric area are equipped with televisions, valuable, Webber said, in distracting young patients from needles and other tools of treatment. There is a large plastic wagon that can be used to transport small patients from one area to another, a rocking chair for parent and child and an art cart and supplies. A children's play area has been set up in the emergency department waiting area, for young patients as well as for children of people who are waiting for treatment. The area, set off from the rest of the waiting room with safety glass, has a cushioned floor and large plastic toys. Brown told the crowd that work in the children's treatment area is not finished. The hospital plans to redo an acute care room so that it is more child friendly and to make improvements to its nursery. "We are still raising money," Brown said. "As we think of other things we need to do, we will be coming back to you and asking again for your help." Webber presented to Brown a large paper heart, decorated by children in the Blades Elementary School kindergarten class of Melissa Wills. "Thanks for thinking of the kids," it said. "I am a mother of five and today, I represent all the moms and dads around Seaford," Webber told Brown. "Thanks for this, from the bottom of our hearts. It is great security to know that if my child is hurt, I can bring him to a place that understands how to take care of a child."

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.