senseless violence against children-and thanks for children's hospitals

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We are all reeling with vivid images of the Boston Marathon explosions. I see the poor 8-year old who was killed flash up on the screen and I cry. that family is irreparably injured, especially because the child's mom and sister were also seriously injured. At the time of this writing, I am aware of 8 other children who have been hospitalized due to the events that occurred during or following the blasts. Somewhere well over 100 others.




For what purpose? And how do we protect our kids?

While we can't protect our children from every possible harm, we can work to ensure that when harm occurs, as it inevitably will, well-trained and dedicated folks will be there to respond. As unlucky as the wounded children may be, they are lucky in that they were able to be treated at a dedicated children's hospital. Why does this matter?


You have heard the phrase: Children are not just small adults.

And that is so very true.

Children have special needs and different responses to illness and injury.

They require specialized equipment, carefully calculated drug dosages, understanding of their developmental level to be able to assess how well their minds are working, and to know what to expect in terms of their responses to stress.

Did you know

that children have less energy reserves and higher metabolisms, so that when their stress hormones start peaking they can rapidly run out of energy that can be produced by their bodies, and they can "crash" much quicker than adults?

Did you know

that whereas a rapid heart rate can be very dangerous in an adult who might have coronary artery disease, and be set up to have a heart attack with a too fast heart rate, that a slow heart rate in a child can be equally as dangerous?

Did you  know

that the normal heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure for each child depends upon his age and size? So being able to know if it is too high or too low is not easy.

Did you know

that drugs must be given on the basis of the child's weight, and that the ability to utilize or metabolize a drug is dependent on age?

Did you know

that many of the drugs we use commonly have never been tested appropriately in children, and so it requires expertise in the physiology of children to be able to administer these drugs safely and effectively?

Did you know that there are data to prove that children who are ill or injured and treated in a children's hospital have better outcomes?

It's not just the availability of equipment and supplies appropriate for children; its the people. The doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physical, occupational and speech therapists, respiratory care practitioners, social workers, nutritionists, psychologists, child life therapists and others who make a children's hospital uniquely prepared to help each and every child obtain the best possible outcome.


I am thankful at this moment for the staff and volunteers at Boston Children's Hospital. I know they will care for these children AND their parents, siblings, classmates and friends. They will help the community cope with the senseless violence that none of us can comprehend. They will be there to guide the parents in talking with their children. They do the same each and every day. Helping one child and family at a time cope with unthinkable illness or injury. Cancer, infections, accidentalal injuries, child abuse, genetic diseases, birth defects, and many, many others. Most of those never make it into the news.

I am thankful for all children's hospitals, whether they are free-standing, like Boston Children's, or hospitals-within-hospitals, like ours (Carilion Clinic Children's Hospital).

Children's hospitals help us protect and preserve our greatest resource, our children.

Be thankful they exist. I  hope you have one Close To Home (wherever home is for you and the children you hold dear).

photo credit: photo pin

About Dr. Ackerman

Alice Ackerman, MD, MBA, FAAP, FCCM is the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Carilion Clinic and Professor and Founding Chair of Pediatrics at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Dr. Ackerman is recognized nationally as an expert in pediatric critical care.

She has been at Carilion Clinic since June of 2007. Her primary goals are to enhance the health care of children in the Roanoke Valley and Southwest Virginia, and is actively working to do this both as physician in chief of the children's hospital, as well as through involvement with many state-wide initiatives.

Close to home links

Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital
Carilion Clinic Pediatric Services
Children’s Miracle Network
Follow me on Twitter
Pediatric Residency Facebook Page
The AAP website for parents
Just the Vax
Moms Who Vax blog
Parents Who Protect
Roanoke Times Medical blog
Running a hospital blog


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