Smiling young patient with Ranken Jordan volunteer
Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital: Where Kids Can Be Kids

Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital is a gorgeous building offering state-of-the-art pediatric medical care of a type not found elsewhere. But what is really striking about the place, aside from the building and the quality of the medical services found within, is the warmth and depth of caring, from the heart, for the young patients served within. This is what we responded to when we decided to award Ranken Jordan a small grant. We spoke with Ranken Jordan Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Jennifer Brown, to get a better picture of this very special place.

exterior of Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital, at nightfall
Exterior of Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital, at nightfall

Kars4Kids: Tell us about the population you serve.

Jennifer Brown: The kiddos here are Ranken Jordan are medically complex. We specialize in caring for children and families who face complicated medical diagnoses. The children we take care of are the sickest of the sick. Common diagnoses include failure to thrive, respiratory failure, feeding difficulties, orthopedic aftercare, brain injuries, child abuse and spinal cord injuries.

As medicine and technology continue to advance, children are living longer with more chronic and severe conditions. Many of our children are dependent on medical technology. More than half of our kids have airway needs, requiring licensed respiratory therapists in addition to a team of nurses and nurse assistants for 24-hour care. Here at Ranken Jordan, we serve children birth to age 21.

Kars4Kids: Ranken Jordan is billed as the “first and only pediatric bridge hospital.” What is a bridge hospital and why do children need one?

Jennifer Brown: Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital bridges the gap between hospital and home. We transition kids from an acute care hospital to home. Our 60-bed facility provides a unique array of services through our inpatient, outpatient and day treatment programs to help ill or injured children achieve their best possible outcomes. Without Ranken Jordan, many of these kids would have no alternative but to transfer from an acute care hospital to an adult nursing home, which does not provide the kind of rehabilitative therapies and life-enhancing, child-friendly service we provide. Here, kids can be kids, despite the challenges they face as the most ill of all patients in pediatric medicine.

Kars4Kids: What makes Ranken Jordan “child-friendly?”

Jennifer Brown: EVERYTHING! While Ranken Jordan is licensed as a hospital, it looks like anything but. Every square inch of our state-of-the art facility was designed with the children in mind. Because our children spend more than 70% of their waking hours outside of their room, nearly early part of our hospital is considered a therapy space. This is what we call Care Beyond the Bedside.

Kars4Kids: Tell us more about the way Ranken Jordan offers “Care Beyond the Bedside.”

Jennifer Brown: Treatment for each child at Ranken Jordan is guided by our Care Beyond the Bedside model which is designed to heal children physically, mentally, emotionally and developmentally in order that each may return home as soon as is feasible. An integral component of our model is ensuring that patients are up, dressed in their own clothes and out of their beds for up to 70% of their waking hours.

A typical day could include petting the therapy dog, cozying up with a good book in the reading nook, strumming the guitar, painting a picture, visiting a community restaurant, playing golf on the six-hole putting green or hitting a home run on the baseball diamond. Our medical equipment is mobile so we can administer medications wherever the child is receiving therapy rather than keeping them inside their rooms. The dining room is shared so the patients can socialize and normalize with each other rather than eating alone in bed. This unique care model lets children heal through play because we know that playtime is natural for kids and promotes healing.

Kars4Kids: How are you working to make siblings “part of the process?”

Jennifer Brown: Meeting the needs of the siblings goes hand-in-hand with “caring for the whole family.” Recently, we created a new position, a Patient and Family Engagement Liaison within our Family-Centered Care, that focuses solely on the families and especially the siblings.

Kars4Kids: Do volunteers play a part in the work you do? Can you describe the role they play?

Jennifer Brown: Volunteers at Ranken Jordan play a major role here at Ranken Jordan. They are an integral part of what we do and how we do it. Ranken Jordan depends on 200+ volunteers for care for children. Community programs in particular are successful thanks to the thousands of volunteer hours. More than 40% of all hours spend operationalizing community programs is staffed by a volunteer!

Music therapist aids helps young patient strum a guitar
Music therapist aids helps young patient strum a guitar

Kars4Kids: Can you tell us about some of the activities you offer to your patients?

Jennifer Brown: Children participate in a wide variety of restorative therapies, indoor and outdoor activities, socializing, learning, playing and simply being kids. Here, kids are cooking, playing gardens, creating art and making music. Special programs include weekly adaptive golf sessions, baseball and other adaptive sports, community integration trips and sporting events. We also offer Art Therapy, Music Therapy and Pet Therapy.

Young man plays golf at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital
A patient hits the links at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital

Kars4Kids: Your website says that caring for the child means “caring for the whole family.” In what sense is Ranken Jordan caring for the whole family?

Jennifer Brown: We understand that a child’s illness or injury isn’t just physical and affects more than just the child. The entire family copes with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges that often feel overwhelming. We provide holistic care for the entire family so caregivers and the home are truly ready for their child’s homecoming.

To care for their kids, families often need skills that rival those of trained medical professionals. In addition to providing the training, Ranken Jordan gives families the emotional and practical support they need to thrive. We offer support for everything from transportation to connecting parents with schools and resources. Our community and outpatient programs also provide ongoing care, healing and support for over 800 families every year.

Kars4Kids: What are the most important ingredients for a successful transition from hospital to home?

Jennifer Brown: Other hospitals measure success by how many beds are filled. Here at Ranken Jordan, we measure success by how many of our beds are empty. It takes safety protocols and instant communication tools that help our kids stay safe on even their most ambitious adventures. It also takes a team that includes physical pediatric specialists, psychiatrists, nurses, respiratory therapists, pediatric nurse practitioners, certified nursing assistants, recreational therapists, child life specialists, pediatric pharmacists, occupational therapists, volunteers, dietitians and care coordinators. All working tougher to get our kids out and about. Finally, it takes caring for families along with kids. Because more than anything, our kids need healthy families to thrive.

Kars4Kids: What’s next for Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital?

Jennifer Brown: In February 2018, the hospital completed a three-story, 75,000 sq. ft. expansion that nearly doubled the hospital’s capacity to 60 beds and enhanced outpatient services. We’re growing and our goal is to provide more hope and more healing for more kids. We are focusing our efforts on hiring the right clinical staff to meet the needs of our very fragile population.

Not everyone will need Ranken Jordan. That’s ok. However, we still need to get the word out about Ranken Jordan, the population we serve and how they can help.

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