Safe space

Sarasota Memorial Hospital Adds New Pediatric Emergency Waiting Room

The space was designed to make the experience of going to the E.R. less traumatic for children.

By Allison Forsyth July 11, 2022


The emergency room can be a scary place for kids, who may be unsure what is wrong with them and intimidated by the unusual equipiment and all the people swirling around them.

With that in mind, Sarasota Memorial Hospital recently unveiled a new pediatric emergency waiting room that was designed to make the experience of going to the E.R. less traumatic for children.

The new waiting room is located right next to the Emergency Care Center at the hospital's main campus. It's separated by a glass partition and has a child-friendly design, with toys, games, a TV and a gaming monitor to help kids relax while they wait. The $3.9 million renovation also includes a new check-in and registration area and emergency radiology section, with an additional computed tomography (CT) scanner.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital staff opening the pediatric waiting room.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital staff celebrating the opening of the pediatric waiting room.

"It's stressful for families when a child gets sick," says Sarasota Memorial medical director Dr. Reuben Holland. "This is why we've created a unique, personalized experience so children are not mixed in with the adult population."

Holland says the contingent of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital pediatricians on staff at the hospital work to make parents feel more comfortable about leaving their children there. Pediatricians stay in the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and even sleep there at night.

"We want to have the same kind of care as if patients drove to All Children's Hospital," says Sarasota Memorial pediatrician Dr. Katherine Keeley. "This brings up the level of our emergency room department to be on par with children's hospitals. It also enables families to stay closer to home."

In addition to the new waiting room, Sarasota Memorial has invested in other child-friendly forms of care, including a staff of pediatric nurses who are Pediatric Advanced Life Support-certified, special sedation teams, dietitians and other specialists.

"I am here to make the hospital easier for kids, whatever that looks like for them," says child life specialist Jenna Maye. "This could be preparing them for a procedure, educating them on a new diagnosis in terms they understand, or offering a sense of comfort."

Maye says hospital staff want kids to feel comfortable when they walk through the doors to prevent any trauma that would make them afraid to go to the doctor in the future. The hospital even utilizes virtual reality goggles that simulate doctor experiences to help kids get comfortable with what they are about to experience.

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