Dr. Nirit Swerdloff Talks About What a Day in the Pediatric ER of Broward Health Coral Springs is Like
By Jen Russon
By Dr. Asking Nirit Swerdloff what a day in the children’s emergency room looks like, you understand both the joy and sorrow of providing health care to the youngest and most vulnerable among us.
As an assistant medical director at Broward Health Coral Springs’ Children’s ER, Swerdloff was on call for drowning accidents, burns, and battery swallowing, which were then disposed of by pediatric specialists at her Level 2 facility. But treating patients in a state that comes first in drowning deaths of children ages 1 to 4 that most resonates with this doctor.
“Every summer I do a mental rain dance for my service. Drowning cases are really my PTSD, ”said Swerdloff. “It happens more than you think.”
In April, Swerdloff’s safety lecture covered CPR knowledge, fences, and alarms around swimming pools; simple things parents can do, such as swimming lessons and adult vigilance, that often mean the difference between life and death.
The talk was about child-proofing the entire house and warned of the seemingly harmless danger of transferring a liquid household cleaner into an unmarked water bottle.
Some prevention tips were even less noticeable. For example, parents should not give ipecac or induce vomiting after a child ingests a toxin. Instead, pediatricians say the best thing a parent can do is go to the emergency room as soon as they can call Poison Control or 911.
Swerdloff also stressed that he came to the children’s emergency room, even when the parents’ concerns seem silly or over the top.
“Prevention is better than cure. Strange as the concern is, I am trained to find a treatment solution if necessary. We are always happy to see parents come in and be proactive,” she said.
Even if the parent is sure that some change will come out of the child’s diaper, Swerdloff said it’s best to get in. She has seen many strange cases since her career began decades ago, from contact with fuzzy caterpillars to eating potentially harmful flowers, seeds and plants.
“Accidents happen, but at the heart of what we do is that prevention and education reduce the risk of serious injury,” said Swerdloff.
She added that the real pleasure and beauty of the emergency medical team she works with is their education and expertise in pediatrics.
“Honestly, I treat two patients at the same time: the parent and the child.”
Swerdloff advocates for children 16 and older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and welcomes the questions and concerns of parents.
When it comes to taking your child to the emergency room, consider choosing one with a dedicated first aid kit for children. Some ERs may be “kid-friendly,” but that doesn’t mean they have a dedicated pediatric team like Broward Health Coral Springs. Adult medicine is very different from pediatrics, and as a member of the American Board of Pediatrics, Swerdloff knows the difference all too well.
The difference is that her hospital offers highly specialized pediatric care, which means that when a child comes to the hospital, they will be seen by pediatricians and specialist pediatric nurses in a dedicated pediatric unit. The way of sleeping aims to make children comfortable and less scared, not easy to find in other hospitals.
“I can examine the patient while he or she is sitting on the parents’ lap. I am specifically trained to treat children of any age, and so is every member of my team, ”said Swerdloff.
Broward Health Coral Springs is the only children’s hospital emergency room in West Broward trained to minimize radiation exposure in diagnostic tests, laboratory exams, and IVs.
Child Life specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, creating a family-oriented pediatric emergency room that assists parents in the decision-making process.
A welcoming waiting area for children and an intake policy also identify the Broward Health Coral Springs children’s ER as family-friendly.
Pediatric nurses work with subspecialists to treat injuries and risks across a broad spectrum.
“We see many of our patients more than once and are happy to treat the child at every stage of development. Sometimes accidents happen, so when they come to us, we know that children need special and unique care, and that is the kind of care my team and I have been trained for, ”said Swerdloff.
To explore the many pediatric services offered by The Salah Foundation Children’s Hospitals at Broward Health Medical Center and Broward Health Coral Springs, or check out their Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center for primary care, dental and social services.
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Jen Russon Jen Russon is a freelance writer and teacher of English language arts. She has published two novels on Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.