The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center has been named Baltimore’s regional pediatric burn center by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS). Under the new designation, the Children’s Center will care for all burn victims under the age of 15 in the State of Maryland and surrounding communities, while the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center will remain the state-designated burn center for adults.
“The Children’s Center’s unique synergy of multiple pediatric sub-specialties converging under one roof—such as critical care, pain management, counseling, reconstructive and plastic surgery, among others—offers the best-tailored treatment for each burn patient,” says Rick Redett, M. D., director of the Children’s Center Pediatric Burn Program. “Our colleagues at Bayview, on the other hand, have a long-standing experience in caring for adult burn victims, and it’s an experience that we’ll be relying on in this time of transition.”
Prior to the designation, pediatric burn cases were dispatched first to Bayview, only to be re-routed to the Children’s Center. The new arrangement is not only less cumbersome for everyone involved, but saves time in delivering prompt medical care.
The Children’s Center burn team includes specialists from disciplines including critical care and anesthesiology, general surgery, reconstructive and plastic surgery, pediatric surgery, pain management, rehabilitation, infectious diseases, psychology, psychiatry, nursing, child life, social work and injury prevention.
Burn cases that come through the Children’s Center range from minor ones to those requiring multiple reconstructive surgeries and years of follow-up. Regardless of their severity, however, all pediatric burns require specialized care and expertise.
“Because of their vastly different physiology, children cannot be treated simply as little adults,” says nurse practitioner Susan Ziegfeld, who manages the Children Center’s Trauma and Burn programs. “The differences go far beyond size. Children metabolize at different rates, and their body temperature is regulated differently.”
Since the beginning of the year, the Children’s Center has admitted 80 children with severe burns, a number that is likely to go up as the weather turns colder, Ziegfeld says.
While domestic fires from unattended heating devices and candles are the top cause of burns in children in the cold months, no time of the year is burn-proof. For example, scalding injuries are a year-round phenomenon, and microwaveable soups are perennial culprits in pediatric burns, Ziegfeld says.
Children under 5 years of age are at the greatest risk for all types of burns because they cannot judge risks as well as older children and adults.
The Children’s Center Burn Unit integrates clinical care, research and training with patient care. However, prevention via community outreach remains key, says Ben Selassie, project administrator for the Center’s “Injury Free Coalition for Kids” initiative, which offers a five-week training course for community residents in all aspects of fire safety and burn prevention. The program includes free smoke-detector installation in city neighborhoods.