Patient Janiya Pate of Jackson smiles as nurse Leigh Moreau checks her stomach during a visit to the Pediatric Fast Track.


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Pediatric Fast Track to pair right level of care with each patient

Published on Monday, September 17, 2018

By: Annie Oeth

(Top photo: Nurse Leigh Moreau checks the heartbeat of Pediatric Fast Track patient Janiya Pate of Jackson.)

Janiya Pate had a sore throat on a recent afternoon.

The Jackson 2-year-old wasn’t her usual happy, playful self, so her mother, Michelle Dean, left work, picked her up from day care and took her to the closest health provider, the Pediatric Emergency Department at Batson Children’s Hospital.

There, they were among the first to be referred to the new Pediatric Fast Track. Available from 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and noon to midnight on weekends, the Pediatric Fast Track is designed to pair low-acuity patients with the care they need in the shortest amount of time.

Patients in the Col. Harland Sanders Children’s Emergency Department whose conditions fit the Fast Track criteria can be triaged to the area, located adjacent to the emergency department, freeing ED space for more complex cases.

Portrait of Dr. Benjamin Dillard

The result, said Dr. Benjamin Dillard, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Batson, could be a saving of time and possibly money for families and a more efficient emergency department.

“Fast Track covers urgent care needs for pediatric patients,” he said. “This allows those needs to be met quickly while freeing space for patients with the most acute needs.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends emergency care for children affected by a severe injury or illness. These symptoms can include seizures, trouble breathing, pain, injuries and loss of consciousness or vomiting after a head injury.

Other conditions, such as possible influenza, strep throat, rashes, viruses or infections, might not be as serious but can be concerning enough to parents that they want to see their children treated as soon as possible.

However, parents do not get to select the Fast Track as their child’s care provider. The ED’s medical team determines which patients are eligible for the transfer. Transfer depends on resources available, the acuity of the child and hours of operation.

Pate gets swabbed for a strep test during her visit to the Fast Track.

The Fast Track plan moves young patients who are not seriously ill or injured and who require a shorter amount of care to a separate area. When a patient and family enter the ED at Batson, medical team members evaluate the patient’s condition through a triage process, assigning each condition a number on a scale from one to five, with one being the most critical.


“The conditions that would be ranked as triage five and possibly four could be treated in the Fast Track area,” said Jennifer Stephen, director of nursing services at Batson. “These could include fever, rashes, strep, flu or diarrhea, conditions that parents would want to see treated quickly.”

For Dean and Janiya, that’s what happened. They were in and out of the ED in less than an hour. “Everyone was so nice,” Dean said, “and the visit did not last long.”

The Fast Track area adds three treatment rooms to the existing 23 treatment rooms of the state’s only pediatric emergency department. Currently, the department cares for about 48,000 patients each year.