Winter 2006

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Reaches Out to Physicians

Sandrijn van Schaik, M.D., Ph.D.

Physicians at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital are dedicated to not only providing the highest level of care for patients, but also to reaching out to physicians in the community and throughout the region.

"Centers like ours, which have a strong education mission and a high level of awareness of evidence-based medicine, have a responsibility to help physicians stay informed and to assist them in bringing new knowledge into practice," says Sandrijn van Schaik, M.D., Ph.D., who is in charge of outreach for pediatric critical care at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. "Because, first and foremost, when we support physicians, we ultimately help the children we all care for."

UCSF's perinatal and neonatal programs have long been at the forefront of outreach to surrounding communities, and have established ongoing relationships with 17 hospitals in Northern California.

"Our goal is to present current clinical information, so that physicians and nurses can provide the best level of care to high-risk infants and children in their communities," says Outreach Coordinator Jill Thornton, R.N.C., B.S.N. "By doing so, we also ensure continuity of care when those infants need to come to UCSF."

UCSF has an unusually large perinatal outreach program, Thornton says. "As a California Children's Services [CCS] Regional Center, we are mandated to provide certain outreach services, but we offer a much wider range of services to our affiliated community hospitals." As a program that doesn't rely on state grants to operate, UCSF is one of the very few independent outreach programs in the state, and so can offer more services without state government restrictions.

Van Schaik and her colleagues regularly travel to area hospitals to instruct staff about the latest techniques and technology in pediatric critical care. Sessions are offered to the hospitals at a reasonable cost, and include a critical care physician, a respiratory therapist and a nurse. The team takes a very hands-on approach, running mock codes and debriefing participants afterward. The goal is to enhance familiarity of participants with recent advances in pediatric medicine and to help them incorporate evidence-based medicine into care of the acutely ill pediatric patient.

"For instance, we simulate a patient going into respiratory failure, using a practice dummy, and then afterward we go over what went well, what could be done better, summarize the case, talk about currently available and recommended patient care strategies, and then go on to do another case," van Schaik says.

In some cases, hospital staff want to review or learn about a specific scenario or piece of equipment. In a recent case, a community hospital had just purchased a new code cart and wanted to learn how to optimize its use, van Schaik says.

The desire for such services is widespread, van Schaik reports. "It is hard for hospitals where children make up only a fraction of the total patient population to keep their personnel experienced and confident in handling acutely ill children." The team also offers more formal lectures and case conferences, but the effort to create hands-on exercises to transmit information about tertiary pediatric care is a new approach, van Schaik says.

Like all units at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, the perinatal and pediatric critical care units feel that a critical component of outreach is to create better avenues of communication between UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital staff and referring physicians, both during a child's stay at UCSF and after discharge.

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital is working on systems in which referring pediatricians will quickly receive faxed admission notes, followed by frequent update calls and timely discharge information on their pediatric patients at UCSF.

For more information, contact Dr. Sandrijn van Schaik at (415) 476-3731 or Outreach Coordinator Jill Thornton at (415) 353-1574.

Related Information

News Releases

Renowned Children's Hospital Surgeon Lauded by AAP, Surgeons
Renowned fetal surgeon Michael R. Harrison, M.D., was honored this fall by two of the nation's most prestigious medical professional organizations, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Surgeons, for his contributions to both fields.

Bloomingdale's Opening Raises Over $200,000 for UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital
The Grand Opening Gala for Bloomingdales in San Francisco garnered more than $200,000 in donations for UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. The funds will help children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.