Specialty board exams for emergency medicine, let alone pediatric emergency medicine, didn’t exist in 1976, when Dr. James Pierog finished his emergency medicine residency at LA County/USC Medical Center. At the time, it was one of only three emergency medicine residencies in the country. Soon after he completed his training, he helped form Emergency Medicine Specialists of Orange County (EMSOC). The group was contracted to staff the St. Joseph Hospital Emergency Department, which at the time also provided emergency services for CHOC Children’s Hospital.
During the early months, Dr. Pierog and his partners treated about 20 patients a day — all adults. At that time, the local pediatricians would stay in the emergency department to care for their pediatric patients. This practice eventually waned, and soon EMSOC physicians were caring for all patients – adults and children – arriving in the emergency department.
Today, the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s Hospital sees nearly 200 kids each day. Orange County’s only all-pediatric emergency department is staffed with 20 emergency medicine fellowship-trained EMSOC physicians prepared to treat a wide range of pediatric medical and surgical conditions.
Pediatric Emergency Medicine Comes of Age
In 1976, Dr. Pierog could not have imagined the state-of-the-art technology, facilities, and services now available in the emergency department that opened one year ago at CHOC Children’s Hospital. The 22,000-square-foot department features 31 treatment rooms, including 14 rapid evaluation and discharge exam rooms and three triage suites. It’s close to new and advanced operating rooms, laboratory, pathology and imaging services – each with a dedicated pediatric environment and staff.
“We have 24/7 access to all the medical and surgical CHOC specialists, imaging services and laboratory testing,” Dr. Pierog said. “We have specialized pediatric nurses who are simply outstanding with the way they deal with and care for children. Our child life specialists make the visit to the emergency department so much more comfortable and enjoyable for patients and families.”
The all-pediatric environment draws an equally enthusiastic response from the community.
“All day long we hear how delighted families are that CHOC has its own pediatric- and family- centered emergency department,” Dr. Pierog said. “The paramedics love it, too. It took only one week for our emergency department to become a certified paramedic receiving center.”
A technological development in the emergency department has been the incorporation of the electronic health record (EHR). This gives the emergency physicians rapid access to patients’ records. Dr. Pierog believes the EHR is essential for communicating with CHOC medical staff and community pediatricians when providing episodic care.
The pediatric emergency medicine specialists at CHOC are committed to ensuring quality medical care for the region’s children. For more information, visit EMSOC.