Building a Family-Centered Care Team
Each child and family is special and unique. Nobody knows a child better than their parent, so we encourage parents to take an active role in their child’s treatment and recovery. Children’s Health wants your input and thoughts so we can work together as a team to give your child the best care possible.
Family-centered care is based on strong partnerships between families and health care providers. By working with patients and their families, practitioners learn about patients from the people who know them best. The benefit of the help and insights from family members allows doctors and staff to better plan and deliver patient care.
We partner with you in your child’s care
Open communication among patients, their families and health care staff is just one benefit of family-centered care. Sharing knowledge allows everyone involved to understand the options. Practitioners and family members are partners within the health care system and parents are empowered to be involved in their child’s care. Clear communication results in the highest quality care, underscoring the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life for our young patients and their families.
We promise to honor and respect your perspectives as the patient family
The practice of patient- and family-centered care is guided by the principles of dignity and respect, information sharing, participation and collaboration. Health care practitioners will listen to and honor patient and family perspectives and choices, while sharing transparent and unbiased information with our families. Through collaboration, the care and treatment process works better for everyone involved.
Understanding your care team’s roles
Our care team is one of the reasons why Children's Health is among the nation's premier pediatric hospitals. We are the primary pediatric teaching facility for UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. This means your child may be seen by more than one doctor, but it also means you are receiving the best care. Here are some of the different jobs that go with the new faces you may meet as you become part of the Children’s Health family (each of these sections should be accordions):
Attending physician is the main doctor who oversees or attends to your child's care. This doctor may work for UT Southwestern or at a local organization, but practices at Children’s Health. This doctor also supervises doctors-in-training. Your child’s attending physician may change during your child’s stay.
Some physicians decide to become subspecialists, such as a cardiologist or allergist. During this stage of training, which takes place after a residency (see below), that physician is called a fellow. A fellow assists the attending physician and may supervise residents.
A resident is a doctor who has completed his or her medical degree. Residents are training in a specialty area of medicine and work closely with attending doctors. In the hospital, your child may meet two types of pediatric residents:
Senior residents: Senior pediatric residents are typically in their second or third year of residency. These residents often supervise a team of interns and medical students, and help coordinate care for multiple patients rather than providing one-to-one care for a single patient.
Interns: “Intern” is a traditional name for the first year of residency. If an intern is assigned to help care for your child, typically he or she will be closely involved in your child’s day-to-day progress. Interns are supervised by more senior residents, as well as by physicians.
Medical students attend medical school for four years, and the first two years are typically focused on classroom learning. The last two years are spent learning in hospitals and clinics. Your child may have a medical student assigned to help in his or her care; these students are supervised by residents and attending physicians.
Anesthesiologists are doctors who care for patients when they are “asleep for surgery.” Anesthesia is used so your child will not feel pain or be aware during an operation. It is like going to sleep for surgery. Pediatric anesthesiologists have extra training to provide anesthesia for children. Your pediatric anesthesiologist manages your child’s anesthesia so that she or he will recover appropriately after the operation. Your pediatric anesthesiologist may have a team taking care of your child that could include
- Anesthesia assistants
- Nurse anesthetists
- Anesthesia residents
- Anesthesia fellows
The pediatric anesthesiologist will meet with you prior to an operation and monitor your child throughout the operation, managing your child’s anesthesia from the preoperative area through recovery.
Registered nurses (RNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) will care for your child. They can answer any questions about health, the body, medical terms and medication. The nurses at Children’s all have special training in the care of children. Many are also trained in a specific pediatric specialty. They are an important part of your child’s care team.
“I see hardworking, competent & selfless human beings providing so many acts of kindness to make life better for children that it brings tears to my eyes. But it’s rare you’ll see us cry… What you don’t see is all the stress of fighting for our patients, the grief pushed down, emotions finally catching up to us. We weep as a family. But then we wipe our tears, hug each other, smile & say ‘see you tomorrow to fight another day’,”
Pediatric ICU RN Ginny Easterling
Advanced practice providers (also called “nurse practitioner” or “physician assistant”) perform many of the same functions as physicians and work in collaboration with the physician team, under the supervision of the attending physician. These professionals can order tests and therapies, perform special procedures, make diagnoses, treat injuries and illnesses, prescribe medications and coordinate care. There may be times when your child will have a clinic appointment with an advanced practice nurse or physician assistant instead of with a doctor.
Primary nurse is the nurse assigned to your child. This nurse is directly responsible for coordinating your child’s care.
In the hospital:
- A nurse will always be assigned to your child. Nurses work 8- to 10-hour shifts each day. When your child’s nurse ends her workday, a new nurse will be assigned to you.
- When a new nurse starts his workday, he will come into your child’s room and introduce himself.
- Nurses in the hospital make sure your child is comfortable, give medications and can help explain what to expect while in the hospital and upon discharge.
In the clinics (Ambulatory Care Pavilion or Specialty Centers):
- Nurses that work in the hospital are not the same nurses that work in the clinics. Therefore, your child will have a different nurse when she comes into the clinic for a doctor’s appointment.
- When you are being seen at one of the clinics, a nurse or team of nurses will be assigned to your child based on the doctor he is seeing.
- Nurses in the clinic help with prescription refills, give shots, take blood, assist the physician and can help explain what to expect while at the clinic and what to do when you go home.
Clinical director or nurse manager is the head nurse that supervises the hospital unit or clinic. You can talk about anything from the care you are receiving to hospital services or your child's comfort with a clinical director or nurse manager.
Care coordinators or care managers: In addition to the nurse assigned to you, the care coordinator helps with the care of your child and is available if you have any questions.
Additional Treatment Team Members
Medical technologists and medical laboratory technicians provide information to the care team by testing blood or other body fluids that help to diagnose a patient’s condition. These tests can also tell how a patient is responding to different medications and/or treatments. About 98 percent of the tests are processed internally in our own laboratory. However, some specialized procedures are done by outside reference laboratories and have a turn-around time that may vary from one day to 10 days.
Occupational therapists help teach patients regular day-to-day actions such as getting dressed and taking a bath. The therapists help patients develop or recover life functions at the level of a child of similar age and ability.
Pediatric pharmacists are available 24 hours a day to ensure medication is both given and used safely and effectively. The pharmacists work with your child’s care team to determine the best medication and monitoring plan. They are experts on the most up-to-date scientific research. They provide advice on medications to physicians, families and patients.
Phlebotomists at Children’s Health are specially trained to draw blood from children. There are three ways to draw blood: venipuncture (using a needle and vein), finger stick (when only a small amount of blood is needed) or heel stick (for infants only). We understand that drawing blood can be a scary process for children. Therefore, your child will receive special attention from our staff members who are skilled in the art of pediatric phlebotomy.
Physical therapists help raise activity levels, build strength and bring back functions as much as possible. They always take the specific conditions of each patient into account.
Radiology technologists perform imaging exams during your child’s stay, if needed. There are many types of imaging exams: X-ray, CT, MRI, ultrasound, nuclear scans, etc. Radiology technologists are licensed and/or certified for the type of imaging they perform. Your child may be asked to wear a special gown and hold very still during the procedure. The technologists will explain and help your child through the exam. Imaging is an important tool to help your physician with diagnosis and treatment during your child’s visit.
Registered dietitians / dietetic technicians are experts on diet and nutrition. They are sometimes called “nutritionists,” but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. Dietitians apply their expertise to treat and prevent disease. They work with you and your child to understand the effects various nutrients have on your child’s health. They also work with you and the care team to suggest therapeutic meal plans, tube feedings or IV nutrition to improve health outcomes, speed up recovery time and prevent disease. They also participate in and conduct research.
Respiratory care practitioners help with breathing problems. Lung problems they help treat are those caused by ongoing diseases such as asthma or cystic fibrosis that become serious enough for an emergency room visit or hospital admission. Other lung problems they will help with may be caused by infections or as a result of heart problems, muscle problems or when kids inhale something besides air and it gets caught in an airway.
In the intensive care units, they manage all the different breathing machines. These ventilate the lungs when the patient isn’t ready to breathe on her own due to surgery, serious illness or injury. Respiratory care practitioners also teach asthma class and cardiopulmonary classes every day to families who have children in the hospital.
Besides working in the hospital, they are part of the transport team which takes care of children in the helicopter, jet and ambulances. They also work in the operating rooms and clinics, in radiology and in the cardiac catheterization lab.
Non-Treatment Care Team Members
Child life specialists help children and families cope with the stress of hospitalization, medical procedures or tests during hospitalization. They also help make the hospital feel less frightening for your child by providing play opportunities in playrooms or at the bedside. A child life specialist can assist your child with
- Understanding a new diagnosis
- Preparing for surgery or other medical procedures (if your child has difficulty coping with the hospital environment)
- Medical play activities
Please ask a nurse or the front desk clerk to page Child Life during your hospital stay.
Patient access representatives (PARs) and senior patient access representatives (SPARs) educate families about different types of managed care and/or health insurance plans. They can also help families navigate health insurance.
Family resource librarians help staff, families and patients learn answers to medical and health information from
- The Internet
- Health and medical databases
- Health books
- Other resources in the hospital and the community
Families, patients and staff members may also borrow books for all ages from our leisure reading collections.
Family Services can ensure you get the most out of your visit to Children’s Health Medical Center Dallas. Social Work, Child Life, and Pastoral Care are all available family services. Your care team can point you in the right direction for specific assistance. Anyone can also individually get in touch with any service.
Financial counselors can walk you through the steps for getting third-party coverage for patients whose guardians/guarantors are unable to pay their medical bill at Children’s Medical Center.
In addition, financial counselors meet with all transplant patients’ families.
Guest Relations representatives are caring professionals who advocate on behalf of the patient/family. They work to improve patient satisfaction and join together with staff to promote service excellence. Talk to Guest Relations when you
- Have feedback about your hospital experience
- Need help communicating with appropriate hospital staff
- Have questions regarding your rights and responsibilities
Concierge provides patients and families with information and directions you may need to get around the hospital and clinics. Concierge personnel are available at each of the main doors of the hospital or by phone at the CARE Line: 214-456-2773. Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. (After hours and on weekends, ask to speak to the administrative supervisor.)
- Walk you, your child, your family and/or guests to places within Children’s
- Help get a wheelchair or wagon for your child
- Deliver flowers or gifts to patients
- Give badges to families and guests
- Provide general hospital information
Language Access Services has a staff of Spanish interpreters available for interpretation in all areas of the hospital 24 hours a day/365 days a year. Request an interpreter by calling the department dispatcher at 214-456-6272. Request interpreters for all languages and/or for lengthy requests (1 ½ hours or longer) by calling 214-456-8669 or 214-456-0006, or send the request through email to Request an Interpreter Appointment.
The request should be made at least 48 hours in advance, whenever possible, if
- Spanish-speaking patient/family assistance will take longer than one hour
- An appointment is at another location (e.g., Chase Building or satellite clinic)
- The language spoken by the patient's family is a language other than Spanish (including ASL)
Information needed to request an interpreter is
- Date and time interpreter is needed
- Length of time needed
- Language needed
- Location for appointment
- Contact name and phone number at location
- Patient name and MRN
Pastoral Care chaplains offer spiritual guidance, emotional support, hope and compassion. Phone: 214-456-2822, Family Room: 214-456-2159, Legacy: 469-303-2822. You can also ask the operator to page the chaplain.
School Services can help your child with his educational needs. When a child’s life is interrupted by an illness or hospital stay it can impact his academic progress and attendance. It is important that there continue to be communication with your child’s school during this period. The teachers in School Services can serve as a liaison between your child’s medical team and your child’s school. School Services staff members offer help for your child in the hospital as well as when he returns home. They offer assistance with the following:
- Consult services to assess school needs
- Individualized Education Plan ( IEP)
- 504 Plan
- Tutoring in the hospital
- Open classroom hours in the hospital
- Psychiatry school program
If you need school assistance or have questions, please call the School Referral Line:
Where we’re located:
In Dallas, we are located in the main building of the hospital, 7th floor, Room C7315
In Plano, we are located in the main building of the hospital, Lobby Level, Room L1274
Social workers help if you are worried about being able to care for your child because of time, money or expertise. Social workers locate resources so that you can concentrate on your child and her treatment. Social workers are available 24 hours a day. We are located in the L level of the main hospital. The room number is DL220.
- Phone: 214-456-2300
- Fax: 214-456-2847
Speech therapists help with speech and/or hearing problems. Our therapists can diagnose and treat pediatric speech and language disorders, voice disorders, fluency disorders, feeding and swallowing difficulties and drooling, as well as perform multidisciplinary evaluation of central auditory processing disorders.
Volunteers at Children’s Health are specially trained and work throughout the hospital. You can identify them by their blue uniforms and badges. Men wear vests, women wear smocks and teens wear polo shirts.
Volunteers hand out items from the gift and book carts. They also work in the playrooms.
If you cannot be here with your child, or need to be away from the hospital, volunteer sitters are available for children of all ages. Ask your nurse or call 214-456-6388 for more information.