ELCH celebrates pediatric partnership with Akron hospital

EAST LIVERPOOL – Tuesday was a “wonderful day of celebration” in the city with the official opening of the Akron Children’s Hospital (ACH) Pediatric Unit at East Liverpool City Hospital (ELCH).

The new children’s hospital actually “went live” on Jan. 7, and feedback from parents has been positive, according to Ken Cochran, CEO/president of ELCH, who said parents have been glad to learn the standards of care are the same as ACH.

Bill Considine, CEO/president of ACH, told those at the opening, “This is a wonderful day of celebration,” citing the proud heritage of both hospitals and saying, “When we can bring those two organizations together, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Considine said ACH believes in bringing pediatric care closer to home, saying, “The children win and we all win together.”

He commended the teams that were able to “make concept turn into a reality.”

Considine said that the Beeghly Campus opened in Boardman in 2008 has exceeded all expectations and also said, “Columbiana County has always been there for the children we serve.”

Cochran said the new partnership between the two hospitals is “something to be proud of” and another example of ELCH bringing quality care to the community, saying, “We are determined to provide high quality health care.”

Dr. Helouise Mapa, chairman of pediatrics at ELCH, said ACH will provide the best of pediatric care for East Liverpool’s children and said in her 39 years at the city hospital she has seen it grow, not only its physical structure but in the services it offers.

“Pediatrics moved to the sixth floor 20 years ago and now, 20 years later, we’re Akron Children’s Hospital,” Mapa said, saying the doctors and nurses have had some challenges to meet as part of the partnership but said, “I can only hope we’ll have a bright future for pediatrics and bright hope for our children in East Liverpool.”

The 15-bed ACH unit has been completely revamped with new floors, wall paint, privacy curtains, window blinds and decor, including bright but soothing colors and wall art by local children.

In addition to the decor, the unit also boasts upgraded equipment, including some geared specifically for children, according to Melissa Monte, nurse manager for ACH.

She pointed out that the WOWs (work stations on wheels) are designed like characters ranging from a ladybug to a giraffe and said, “As soon as the nurses walk in with the WOW, the kids are excited.”

Televisions, a Sony Playstation on wheels and stuffed animals for each young patient are other amenities being offered for the children’s comfort.

New IV pumps, hemodynamic monitoring devices in each room and an EPIC computer system that allows physicians to enter their own orders will improve patient safety and save time.

There is one private room, used for isolation, and the remainder are semi-private, The hospital as a whole has recently received new adult beds, with two in the pediatrics unit.

A security system has been in place at ELCH for years, according to Monte, who said it requires all patients 12 and under to wear a tag that sets off alarms if they get too close to exits.

Although Monte formerly worked a director of maternal child health for ELCH, she is now an ACH employee, but she said other nursing personnel are still ELCH employees.

Some ACH employees came and helped nurses learn the new processes, and Monte said, “Parents appreciate (the partnership) because they know the Akron name. It’s the same level of care.”

Mayor James Swoger was among those who attended Tuesday’s opening, which included tours of the pediatric unit.

“I wasn’t aware it was as big and as nice. I love it,” Swoger said.

Akron Children’s Hospital is the largest pediatric provider in Northeast Ohio and is ranked a “Best Children’s Hospital” in eight specialties by U.S. News & World Report. It has two hospitals, 20 primary care locations and 63 pediatric specialty locations, treating more than 650,000 patients annually.

East Liverpool City Hospital was started in 1905 and has grown into an entire health system that includes hospital services, therapy centers and physicians, and is now known as River Valley Health Partners.