Comprehensive Pediatric Respiratory Care and Rehabilitation

Author: 
Good Shepherd Pediatrics

A child’s path from critical illness to health may be a difficult journey, especially for those who require long-term mechanical ventilation. Patients who remain on ventilators for weeks or months may benefit greatly from a program that combines high-quality respiratory care with comprehensive rehabilitation services.

In the Lehigh Valley region, only the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Pediatric Unit provides rehabilitation for ventilator-dependent children and adolescents. Working closely with the patient’s pediatric pulmonologist, the Unit’s Complex Respiratory Program optimizes respiratory function and works to prevent complications related to the patient’s respiratory problems.

At the Pediatric Unit, many patients are weaned off mechanical ventilation and subsequently decannulated. Staffed 24-7 by pediatric experienced respiratory therapists, the program provides specialized care for patients with a range of non-invasive and invasive respiratory support, from nasal cannulas to tracheotomies. The highly skilled staff monitors and assesses each patient’s respiratory status, assists the physician in creating individual treatment plans, evaluates equipment needs, provides comprehensive caregiver education and helps transition patients to home.

Led by a board-certified pediatrician with extensive experience in the care of children with special needs and medical complexity, the multidisciplinary team is comprised of: pediatric physiatrist; pediatric neuropsychologist; pediatric rehabilitation nurses (many of whom have vast experience in neonatal and pediatric intensive care); physical and occupational therapists; speech-language pathologists; recreational therapists; and clinical social workers. During weekly team meetings, staff members share patients’ progress in their respective disciplines and together develop weekly team goals, care and discharge plans that are presented to families for their input and approval. Each family participates in the team’s weekly meetings to develop or revise goals, assess progress and discuss the treatment plan.

Patients admitted to the respiratory program range from neonates to 18 year olds with a wide range of diagnoses: premature infants with chronic lung disease, children with congenital and acquired medical conditions and teenagers with major multi-trauma and brain and spinal cord injuries. They typically remain in the Pediatric Unit from four to twelve weeks.

New at Pediatric Unit: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Program

About once every hour, a baby who is addicted to opiate drugs is born in the United States, and the numbers are increasing. The Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Treatment Program at the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Pediatric Unit in Bethlehem provides inpatient care to address the complex medical needs of drug-dependent infants.

Drug withdrawal most frequently affects the central nervous system, gastrointestinal, autonomic and respiratory systems. Symptoms can present as early as 1 to 3 days after birth, or may take 5 or 10 days to appear. They may include mottling of skin, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive or high-pitched crying, excessive sucking, fever, hyperactive reflexes, irritability, rapid breathing, stuffy nose, sweating, seizures, sleep problems and trembling.