Nexus Children’s Hospital offers a Pediatric Pulmonary Program for children who are chronically ill, physically fragile, or traumatically injured. The program provides care to children who require short-term tracheostomy/ventilator management, as well as those with long-term tracheostomy/ventilator dependencies who will return home.
A primary feature of the program is our use of portable ventilation in the therapy areas of the hospital. Children can complete physical, occupational, speech, and recreational therapy while still receiving the pulmonary care they require. We also offer portable ventilation in the living areas, so patients can engage in various activities that help them feel more at home.
The Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine program has been very successful. Rita Guillory, Respiratory Manager at Nexus Children’s Hospital explained, “Last year, we had a very successful year, meeting our goal of 100% ventilator weaning.”
In fact, for applicable patients, Nexus Children’s Hospital’s wean rate has been greater than 95% over the last six years and it reached 100% the last two years. Pulmonary Program Director, Sarat Susarla, M.D., and his team of pulmonologists round daily to develop individualized treatment plans for each patient.
One child that stands out is Bryan Iverson. He was a healthy, 15-year-old until he was found unconscious at the gym. Doctors at an El Paso, Texas emergency room first thought he was dehydrated, but after he stopped breathing and had a seizure, they knew something more was wrong. A CT scan confirmed he had a severe brain bleed.
After multiple hospital stays and surgeries, Bryan had a tracheostomy and was put on a ventilator. He beat the odds, but now, he needed specialized care and rehabilitation.
“Bryan was awake, but in his own world. He wasn’t talking or doing much besides kicking and hitting,” said Michelle Mendez, Bryan’s sister. “We were excited for him to move to the next step. It was really hard to see Bryan like that.”
Once Bryan arrived at Nexus Children’s Hospital, he started making improvements right away. Michelle explained, “My mother went with Bryan and I would video call them every day. I literally saw improvements each day after he started rehabilitation. The therapies he performed really helped him.”
“Bryan was fortunate to have a family that supported and encouraged him to participate in all aspects of his care,” said Rita. “Although he admitted with a stable trach, Bryan faced challenges in managing his secretions. To help him maintain a good airway clearance, he worked through aggressive pulmonary therapy using cough assist, breathing treatments, and vest therapy. He always challenged himself to do more and more each day.”
After extensive rehabilitation and pulmonary therapy, Bryan was ready to breathe on his own.
“Bryan actually pulled out his own trach. After the tubes were out, he started moving more and eating again. He eats even more now than before all of this happened!” said Michelle.
Bryan is just a single case to highlight the Nexus Children’s Hospital Pediatric Pulmonary Program. Children like him are admitted who need short- and long-term tracheostomy and ventilator assistance, and our team works diligently with the patient, family, and other therapies to help improve outcomes.
You can read Bryan’s full story here.