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Albany Medical Center Opens New Pediatric Emergency Room

The new pediatric emergency department at Albany Medical Center has opened.

Hospital officials say the Massry Family Children's Emergency Center is the first of its kind in the region, uniquely designed specifically FOR children. It all comes after hospital CEO Jim Barba accompanied his granddaughter to the emergency room.   "Eight years ago, I saw the look of fear on my 3-year old grandchild's face as she struggled being a patient in our adult emergency facility. For me, that was a learning moment. I understood that any credible claim to our being a superb children's hospital had to include the certainty of a separate pediatric emergency building."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Albany Med President and CEO Jim Barba addresses those gathered at the Massry Family Children's Emergency Center ribbon-cutting.

Barba envisioned offering children the best care, in a less frightening place. So began the commitment to what would become a $50 million dollar project. Albany Med put up $30 million, with community residents, businesses and Albany Med employees contributing financially to the project, with $5 million donated by the Massry family. In recognition, the new four-story, 70,000-square foot building has been named “The Massry Family Children’s Emergency Center.” Here's Norman Massry:    "It's among our most proud accomplishments in the community and something that will serve the children for many many years to come."

Dr. Denis Pauze, Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Albany Medical Center, says the new ER  features some 30 different rooms able to offer a variety of treatments and procedures.   "We also have some space on the floor above us for minor emergencies as well as observation spaces. The area here is built with different ‘results pending’ rooms, and so it does help to maximize flow of children that come through our emergency department.”

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
A doorway connects the new pediatric ER with the existing ER.

Pauze adds the new facility is attached to the current ER.    "So it's all about the children. This unit is specifically designed for kids, with a staff that is very passionate and dedicated with taking care of our children."

Pauze took reporters on a tour through the building, noting it has its own ambulance entrance and receiving area:   "We'll have valet parking here. Kids can come in here, they're greeted by what we call a 'nurse first,' and the nurse can take a look at the child, assess for severity. If they're very ill they're brought right back into the main emergency department and otherwise they would get registered here."

The hospital says there are more than 16,000 pediatric visits to its Emergency Department a year, with 80 percent of the children treated and released while the other 20 percent are admitted to the hospital. The new facility will exclusively serve children and teens up to 18. It includes a triage area, observation units and other amenities.

The new emergency department will serve as a front door of care for the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med, the region’s only children’s hospital. For more than 30 years, the children’s hospital has attracted pediatric physicians and surgeons from around the world so children can receive treatment for a variety of conditions and trauma without having to travel far from home.

Features of the Massry Family Children’s Emergency Center include:

  • Open 24/7/365
  • Triage rooms to immediately assess the severity of illness or injury
  • Minor care unit for children and teens with less serious conditions
  • Observation unit for stays up to 23 hours
  • Private rooms designed for the safety and comfort of children
  • On-site X-ray and imaging with special precautions for children
  • Negative pressure rooms for suspected contagious disease
  • Peaceful, child-friendly décor and child-size equipment
  • Games, toys and television to provide a distraction for children
  • Valet parking
  • Easy access for ambulances
  • Nearby rooftop medical helicopter pad

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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