When she joined NYU Langone Health in 2008, Catherine S. Manno, MD, the Pat and John Rosenwald Professor of Pediatrics and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone, set out to expand the depth and breadth of children’s health services. A decade later, she has done just that. In June, the opening of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital, a 168,000-square-foot facility within the new Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Pavilion, marked an exciting new chapter in pediatric care at NYU Langone. We caught up with Dr. Manno, a pediatric hematologist and oncologist who specializes in treating children who have bleeding disorders, on the eve of the ribbon cutting to find out how this new milestone benefits clinical care for children and their families.
What does it mean to you to see this vision fulfilled?
Having been on the faculty at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for over two decades, I know that it’s vitally important to treat children in an environment separate from adults.
Likewise, Dean Grossman realized that to be a great medical center, you need world-class children’s healthcare.
The building of the children’s hospital recognizes that pediatric healthcare is every bit as vibrant and interesting as adult healthcare, and the therapeutics are just as advanced.
Why is Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital uniquely positioned to help New York City families?
We have only single-patient rooms, which is unique in the city. This gives children and their families greater privacy. Family members can also comfortably stay overnight because there’s a dedicated sleeping space in each room. From a medical perspective, it reduces the risk of infection and makes it easier to care for patients since we no longer need to designate rooms according to gender and age.
Are there unique clinical services or areas of expertise that you’ll now be able to provide patients and their families?
Absolutely. We have established new programs in every medical and surgical division so that every child who comes through our Emergency Department or one of our outpatient practices with an urgent or complex need can be quickly diagnosed and treated.
With this state-of-the-art facility, do you have an advantage in recruiting top talent?
Having an appealing, child-centered environment is not only great for patients, but of course, it also helps attract the highest-caliber care provider.
Anyone who visits this children’s hospital will be wowed, not just by the physical environment but also by the quality of care we provide.
How will the environment make life less stressful for families?
When you walk the floors, with their wide corridors and spacious single-patient rooms, it feels very peaceful.
The atmosphere reflects a respect for what children and families are going through. We promote a healing, welcoming environment, but of course, it will never be home, and at the end of the day, we just want our patients to get better and enjoy life beyond their illness.
Do children experience disease or an illness differently from their parents?
Many young children don’t project very far into the future. They’re most concerned about avoiding immediate pain or being separated from their family. However, once they reach preadolescence, children begin to worry about if something bad is going to happen to them, which is a bit more consistent with what their parents worry about: How could this happen to me? Why did this happen to me?
Is it true that My Wall, the 75-inch display screen in every room, will allow kids with longer inpatient stays to connect with their classrooms?
Yes, isn’t that great? The touchscreen tablet also lets children adjust the window shades, lighting, and room temperature to their liking; order meals; Skype with their friends and loved ones; view their daily goals from the care team to assist in recovery; and of course, watch TV and movies and play video games.
How do the supportive resources offered by the Sala Institute for Child and Family Centered Care complement Hassenfeld’s clinical services?
We can’t properly care for children without considering their psychosocial well-being and the disruption that an illness can cause. The Sala Institute helps provide that additional layer of support to children and their families.
Its KiDS of NYU Foundation Center for Child and Family Resilience designs and implements programs that enable our health professionals to deliver innovative psychosocial care and wellness services. The goal is to anticipate the needs of children and their families, provide emotional support, and promote positive outcomes.
Sala’s Youth Advisory Council and Family Advisory Council, meanwhile, inform decisions on nutrition, wellness, family-centered rounds, educational materials—all of which are critical for truly comprehensive care.
The insights that children and parents have contributed are fascinating, and they’ve truly made a difference in our thinking.
Is there a particular example that comes to mind?
Early on, we talked to a mother on the Family Advisory Council whose daughter had been hospitalized multiple times. She talked about the need for fresh air and quiet time. That inspired us to include a terrace overlooking the city skyline that includes a roof garden so that families can step away from the illness for a while. We also followed the suggestions of children on the Youth Advisory Council in designing separate, dedicated playrooms for teenagers, young children, and toddlers.
Can you talk about the importance of connecting with parents in a child’s treatment?
We see ourselves as partners in their child’s healthcare. This partnership is fostered by the Sala Institute. We provide as much information as requested, and we make it digestible. One important connection is made when we welcome parents as participants in rounds. The doctors will enter a patient room, introduce themselves, and say, “We’re here to talk about your child’s progress.” After reviewing the previous day’s information, they’ll discuss the case together with the family. You might have a five-year-old with leukemia who’s on day three of chemotherapy.
The doctors will talk about the specific medications and the related side effects, and then ask, “Do you have any comments about how your child is doing with the treatment? Do you have any concerns?” This collaboration benefits not only families, but also the quality of the patient care.