"We were all ready to head out on a college tour upstate," remembers Elliot Greene. "The night before we were to leave, my son, Geoffrey, complained that he wasn't feeling so well-there was some abdominal cramping and he had no appetite.
He was diagnosed with Crohn's disease eight years ago, so these symptoms are not that unusual, but when my wife, Amy, and I looked at our son lying listlessly on the couch the evening before an exciting trip, we knew something was not right."
"His temperature was only 101.9°," recalls Amy, "but with his history of Crohn's, we are extra cautious. We took him to the Emergency Room at New York Methodist. We see Yvonne McFarlane-Ferreira, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist at NYM, for Geoffrey's Crohn's disease, so we knew we were in good hands."
Crohn's disease is a condition that causes the immune system to attack the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. When working as it should, the immune system attacks harmful organisms or foreign substances that come in contact with the GI tract walls, and then stops when the job is complete. "For people with Crohn's," says Dr. McFarlane-Ferreira, "the immune system, with input from genetic and environmental factors, wages a continuous attack on the GI tract, targeting harmful and harmless agents alike. Although the disease is chronic, it can go into remission but then flare up again. Geoffrey's fever, cramps and lack of appetite were all symptoms that his Crohn's might be acting up, and if that was the case, he needed to be treated right away. Heading to the Hospital was exactly the right course of action.
"When we arrived at the emergency room, I was surprised-and pleased-to see that there was an altogether separate pediatric waiting room, triage, and treatment area," says Mr. Greene. Located within NYM's main emergency room, the pediatric emergency service is a self-contained area staffed by physicians certified in both emergency medicine and pediatrics, and by registered nurses with specialized training. "We understand that we are seeing children and their parents in an incredibly vulnerable time, so we've tried to make the space as comfortable as possible for children and adolescents, with a private waiting area, smaller beds, softer colors and characters that kids will recognize. Everyone on our staff is sensitive to the needs of children and their parents," says Robert van Amerongen, M.D., chief of pediatric emergency medicine.
"We were seen immediately by a very friendly triage nurse who distracted Geoffrey from his discomfort with tales of her daughter's own college tours and applications. Once inside, each and every person with whom we dealt was truly lovely. From triage, the exam, x-rays and discharge, the entire experience took less than three hours. But the best thing of all was finding out that Geoffrey only had a virus and that his Crohn's disease wasn't beginning to rage again."I feel such comfort knowing that there is an emergency room near my home that can serve each member of my family, should the need arise," says Mr. Greene. "Although I would have preferred to have my son feeling healthy and strong, I feel lucky that NYM was there when he was not."
Read this story, other inspiring patient stories and more in the Annual Report to the Community 2012-2013.
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