Caring for our future

California’s future rests on the health and wellness of its more than 9 million children. Helping to ensure access to world-class pediatric care are the state’s eight freestanding children’s hospitals.

For more about specialized children’s health care, Smart Business turned to Diana Hendel, Pharm.D., CEO of Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, which recently opened a new inpatient pavilion, is one of just two freestanding children’s hospitals in Los Angeles County.

What makes care of children unique?

Children aren’t simply young adults. Often the same illnesses seen in adults are seen in children but can affect them differently. But, more often than not, they have unique medical needs and experience different types of health issues.

This is never more apparent than when a child requires medical care. Children need a hospital that specializes in their unique health care issues, including neonatal intensive care, trauma, surgical care, pediatric intensive care, cancer and blood disorder care or outpatient specialty care for the management of chronic conditions.

As children grow and develop, their need for highly trained specialized health care increases as they transition to adulthood.

Why are children’s hospitals so important?

Children’s hospitals are indispensable to the health care of all children. Children’s hospitals treat the vast majority of children with chronic conditions and congenital abnormalities, including 93 percent of children requiring cardiac surgery and 71 percent of childhood cancer.

Whether through a national consortium or enrollment in a clinical trial, children’s hospitals, physicians and health care teams work to uncover the complex intricacies of pediatric illnesses. With top pediatric specialists and sophisticated technology, children’s hospitals pioneer new vaccines and treatments for common illnesses, chronic conditions and complex diseases.

How do they differ from adult facilities?

Children’s hospitals are special, some say miraculous, places where everything is kid-sized and child-friendly and where even the sickest children have hope of becoming healthy again.

The role a children’s hospital plays is threefold: It is a destination for children who seek specialized pediatric care, the primary ‘medical home’ for children with chronic or congenital conditions, and a ‘safety net’ for children of families who are uninsured or underinsured.

While community hospitals may treat pediatric patients of all ages, freestanding children’s hospitals such as Miller Children’s have board-certified pediatric physicians who go through special training to care for children. In fact, they train 35 percent of all pediatricians and nearly 50 percent of pediatric subspecialists. Children’s hospitals place a strong emphasis on family-centered care and have expansive supportive programs and networks offered exclusively to parents and siblings.