News & Events

An allergic reaction leads to an emergency room visit

Neela on the couchIt was your average Sunday evening. Nine-month-old Neela and her mom and dad were spending a quiet night at home.  Mom was feeding Neela scrambled eggs for the first time, when almost immediately, Neela’s lips started to swell.  Mom and Dad suspected an allergic reaction but took to Google and a phone call to their pediatrician to confirm. Even though the swelling started to subside after a few minutes, Neela’s on-call doctor recommended a trip to the Emergency Room, just to be safe.

Neela’s first trip to the ED

“We weren’t panicked but we went to be safe,” said Neela’s dad. “We live two blocks from Tufts Medical Center so we just walked over. When we got into the Emergency Room, we noticed there was an adult side and a pediatric side.  As soon as we went to the front desk and mentioned an “allergic reaction,” someone immediately popped out from behind the desk and escorted us right into the Pediatric Emergency Department (ED).  From the time we walked through the front door of the ED to the time we got into a patient room was less than two minutes.”

“Immediately, a nurse started taking Neela’s vitals. Another person, who we later found out was a Child Life Specialist, came in just to amuse Neela and keep her comfortable. We saw a resident physician and an attending physician. Everyone was super friendly and knew their role. We were only there for a few hours, but people came in and out the whole time to answer any questions we had. It was all seamless.”

A Child Life Specialist for almost every patient

Pediatric emergency department room with illustrations of Toughlings on the walls and windowThe Tufts Medical Center Pediatric Emergency Department was one of the first to use Child Life Specialists throughout the treatment process, not just in the waiting room. Available from 10 am to 2 am, these experts intuitively understand the fears and anxieties of children in emergency situations. They are ready to put pediatric patients at ease, whether with a book, a teddy bear, or just a simple hug.

“The Child Life Specialist was squatting with her arms held out in a ring around Neela, presumably so she wouldn’t tumble off of the exam table, for an hour,” said Neela’s dad. “She couldn’t have been comfortable, but never once broker character in terms of her cheerful demeanor or engagement with Neela. We were so surprised at the resources they made available – all to make sure our baby was comfortable.”

Getting health care in the era of COVID

“Even though we were in the midst of a pandemic, I wasn’t too worried about bringing Neela to the hospital to receive care,” said Neela’s dad. “Neela’s mom, however, was very nervous.”

“Since the start of COVID-19, I’ve been very conservative about where I go and who I see,” said Neela’s mom. “I worried about myself, my kids and my elderly parents – one of whom is ill. So, the thought of having to take Neela to the hospital did make me nervous. But I was more worried about Neela – that preceded any fear I had about COVID. Once we got there, any worry I had quickly disappeared. They took us right back to a pediatric exam room. We never even sat in waiting room, which was good because common areas scare me the most. Their hygiene standards were amazing. I noticed that everyone was constantly washing their hands.  Just seconds after entering, I forgot any concerns that I had.”

Neela was soon on her way home

“Neela only needed a little Benadryl and observation,” said her dad.  “It wasn’t quite an emergency when you think of some of the scenarios they probably see in the Emergency Department.  But we never felt like we were an inconvenience taking up a room.  It was clear they cared about Neela – and us - a great deal.”

“We couldn’t have been more impressed with the level of professionalism coordination, and compassion than what we experienced that night at Tufts MC. The Child Life Specialist was amazing. We felt like we were the only patients in the hospital.  Everyone was that kind, attentive and thorough.  I can see how the staff might have felt tired and burned out during COVID, but everyone showed up all smiles and with such positive attitudes.”

“It’s heartening to know we have this great asset only a two-minute walk away.  We feel really good knowing that Tufts Children’s is there and wouldn’t hesitate to go back for either our needs or Neela’s.”