Wake Forest Baptist - Lexington Medical Center has its eyes set on improving the lives of local children through its new inpatient pediatric wing.
This wing includes four patient rooms dedicated to pediatric care and two procedure rooms. The wing is run by pediatric hospitalists Dr. Paul Sagerman and Dr. Matthew Albert.
Before coming to Lexington Medical Center, Sagerman worked at Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem for 15 years while Albert still practices several weeks per year at Brenner. Both physicians are on the Brenner faculty and the nursing staff has been trained at Brenner, as well.
"Once we had established the personnel and had the nursing staff trained taking care of pediatric patients, then the hospital said, 'OK, let's develop this pediatric wing,'" Sagerman said.
According to Sagerman, the wing has been renovated to meet pediatric standards set by Brenner. The wing was previously used for adult beds.
Services in the pediatric wing include complete newborn care, support for children who are having surgery at Lexington Medical Center and inpatient treatment for babies born with narcotics dependence, also known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.
Sagerman said many Davidson County families have the notion that if their child is sick, they need to travel to Brenner in Winston-Salem. But he added that not all children who are sick and in need of a hospital necessarily require a children's hospital.
"We're not building a children's hospital here," Sagerman explained. "But our goal is to be able to care for otherwise healthy children who have regular or common acute illnesses such as pneumonia or asthma attacks or intestinal attacks or flu that might need to put them in the hospital for a day or two or longer if necessary, but they're not necessarily life-threatening. They don't need the high, intensive care that you would get out of a children's hospital, and they don't need the specialty services."
According to Sagerman, there is a national movement to bring high-quality care from large, metropolitan hospitals into smaller community hospitals.
The doctor said the purpose of the wing is to bring pediatric expertise back into the community so that families don't have to make stressful travel arrangements.
"The parents don't have to go up to (Brenner Children's Hospital) and pay for parking and spend a half hour or 45 minutes on the highway in both directions and the kids are in the hospital and they're scared out of their brains," Sagerman said. "And family can visit, grandparents can visit, parents can go to work, take the other kids to school if they need to and still run back and forth to the hospital, because we're here at home."
Between Sagerman and Albert, one doctor is on-call 24/7 to provide around-the-clock care to hospitalized children.
Previously, family physicians would come to the hospital from their offices to see the patient.
"When the kids get better, we send them back to their doctor," Sagerman said. "It's disruptive for a doctor to have to keep running back and forth to the hospital."
The renovated pediatric wing is yet another upgrade for Lexington Medical Center, which also broke ground in May for its new 26,500-square-foot, $31.5 million surgery center.
Sagerman believes the pediatric wing shows that Lexington Medical Center is offering more services than locals realize.
"They've had the reputation over the years of Lexington Medical Center was where you went just for a few things but (there are) a lot of great changes here — state-of-the-art stuff," Sagerman said. "And to me, the biggest thing is for people to start to understand just because your child is sick, you don't have to run a half hour away to go to a children's hospital because the same doctors are here that are up there."
Ben Coley can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 227 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Ben on Twitter: @LexDispatchBC