Ouchless ER for Pediatric Patients


The Emergency Department at KVH Hospital has introduced a new offering for young patients.  Ouchless ER makes a trip to the Emergency Department friendlier for children by focusing on the environment, equipment, and education.

The concept of an Ouchless ER was brought forward by KVH CEO Julie Petersen, based on her experience with a similar offering at PMH Medical Center in Prosser, Washington.  The idea was embraced by local community groups, foundations, business owners, and residents who have worked together over the past six months to turn the original vision into a functioning program.

“Emergency care can be a scary unknown for children,” says Dede Utley, KVH Emergency Services director.  “We want to make the experience as painless as possible.”

KVH designated one of the nine rooms in the Emergency Department as a child-friendly room. To make the room more inviting, KVH invited Ellensburg High School student Lucy Beck to transform the walls into a bright and colorful mural. Wood Products Northwest donated cabinetry to conceal medical equipment from young eyes.

In addition to a softer look, there will be more distractions available for children like books, toys, and even tablets with child-friendly apps.

Newly purchased technology that aids in child-friendly medical care includes the J-Tip needle free injection system, an Accuvein for easy vein location if an IV is needed, and Buzzy, an ice and vibration device that blocks pain and looks like a bee or a ladybug.

When appropriate, other techniques that can reduce pain include the use of adhesive glue instead of stitches and topical pain control medications rather than injectable medications.

All Emergency Department staff receive a baseline level of training from a child life specialist about age-appropriate techniques for reducing stress and anxiety in children. Some of the techniques covered were as simple as allowing children to sit on a parent’s lap while receiving treatment.

In addition to artist Lucy Beck and Wood Products Northwest, KVH has received support from The Foundation at KVH, the Community Foundation of Kittitas County, and the Ellensburg Downtown Rotary.  For a full list of sponsors, visit kvhealthcare.org/foundation.

KVH will host an open house and children’s health fair on Thursday, September 21, from 3 to 6 p.m.  Tours of the new Ouchless ER area will be available if patient volumes allow.  If the ER is unavailable, participants will still be able to see photos of the mural.  The children’s fair will include a teddy bear clinic, healthy kids snack ideas and food samples, handwashing education with a glowing germ booth, information about gardening with free seeds and kids gloves, and more.