This holiday season, Billings Clinic Foundation is harnessing the giving spirit of our community to raise $250,000 in 25 days to help build a new Pediatric Infusion Center for kids battling serious illness.
Follow Billings Clinic’s Facebook page as we share the stories of our amazing kids that will be benefit from your generosity and follow the progress of our campaign. If you would like additional information on this project or ways to give, please contact Liz Wilmouth at Billings Clinic Foundation at (406) 657-4692.
Pediatric Specialty Care at Billings Clinic
(left to right) Pediatric Social Worker
Sarah Blackburn, Dr. Paul Kelker, and
Cindy McLean, RN.
Every parent’s greatest hope is to raise a happy, healthy child. Unfortunately, the reality of childhood disease or illness can jeopardize this wish, and the need for specialized care may suddenly become crucial. Billings Clinic has developed the most comprehensive program in our region for specialized pediatric care with the goal to provide children the care they need, close to home, for complex illnesses and diseases. Pediatric specialists have received extensive training in their area of specialty practice.
Billings Clinic was a major force in bringing specialized pediatric care to our vast region beginning in 1978, with the hiring of Dr. Paul Kelker, the first board certified pediatric oncologist and hematologist for the state of Montana. Currently, Billings Clinic is the only organization in the region offering complex multispecialty care provided by physicians who all live and work in the Billings community. Pediatric specialty care is available in cardiology, dermatology, diabetes, endocrinology, hematology, neonatal-perinatal medicine, neurology, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, oncology, orthopedics, pulmonology, psychiatry and urology.
Pediatric specialists also provide care to our vast region by conducting outreach clinics throughout Montana. Currently, Billings Clinic offers pediatric specialty outreach clinics in cardiology and pulmonology, with clinics in endocrinology and neurology scheduled to begin within the next eight months. Billings Clinic is the only Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Affiliate Program in Montana and Wyoming and offers the highest standard of care for both adults and children with cystic fibrosis.
In 2009, Billings Clinic completed construction of the Pediatric Diabetes and Specialty Medicine Clinic. The Specialty Clinic was designed around caring for children with acute or chronic childhood illnesses and diseases that require the skill and expertise of pediatric specialists. The Specialty Clinic is located separate from Billings Clinic’s general pediatric clinic to help protect our fragile children battling chronic disease from the possible risk of illness from transmission of cold and flu viruses that are common in our general pediatric population. The clinic has dedicated space for additional support services such as patient and family education, nutrition counseling and care management. A full size-teaching kitchen is incorporated into the clinic for families to learn the importance of meal preparation for children diagnosed with diabetes.
With the growth of pediatric specialty care and the addition of new care providers, all the outpatient pediatric clinics at Billings Clinic are experiencing severe space limitations. No area is more affected by a lack of available space than the area designated for outpatient infusion treatments for our young patients.
What is a Pediatric Infusion Center?
A Pediatric Infusion Center is a place where children come to receive liquid drug therapy that is infused into their bloodstream. For the treatment of cancer, these drugs are often referred to as chemotherapy. Intravenous drug therapy is given through a small needle placed in a vein and the medication is dripped into the bloodstream. For children who require frequent infusions, a device will be surgically implanted under their skin which leads to a child’s bloodstream. This device, which still requires a needle to access it, can be used to draw blood and give infusions of medications. Infusion treatments can last anywhere from one to eight hours depending on the type of medications. A Pediatric Infusion Center does not just treat patients with cancer; children with serious blood disorders or other diseases or illnesses will also receive intravenous treatments. Sadly, some children require monthly treatments for the duration of their life.
The Plan for a New Pediatric Infusion Center
Billings Clinic plans to construct an expanded Pediatric Infusion Center primarily dedicated to the care of pediatric patients requiring outpatient intravenous infusions for the treatment of their disease or illness. The Center, located adjacent to the Pediatric Specialty Medicine Clinic, will also house our pediatric oncology and hematology care team, whose pediatric patients are the primary users of the Infusion Center.
Advances in the treatment of a wide range of childhood diseases and illnesses is creating a greater demand for outpatient infusion therapy, and this demand is anticipated to only increase in the future. During active treatment phases, children can require frequent infusion therapy lasting anywhere from one to eight hours per treatment. Children with cancer can be in active treatment for up to three years, and children with rare blood or other immune system disorders can require life-long treatments critical to sustaining their life and well-being.
Located within our general outpatient pediatric clinic, the current infusion area is comprised of two converted exam rooms and one true infusion room. Only one of the three treatment rooms includes a window; the other two rooms are not only windowless, but also inadequate in size, measuring only 95 square feet. Since many families travel to Billings for their child’s treatment, they often need to bring their other children, creating even greater space limitations. Bathroom facilities for patients and families are difficult to navigate and located at a distance from the infusion area.
One critical component of infusion therapy is the need to adhere to a specific timeline for treatments. Lack of space occasionally results in needless inpatient admissions to the hospital when our current infusion area is at capacity. These are frightening and stressful occurrences for our children who are used to the care and comfort of our infusion nurses, not to mention added expense to families already dealing with the financial hardships of having a seriously ill child.
The new Pediatric Infusion Center will be located in shelled-in space adjacent to our current Pediatric Diabetes and Specialty Medicine Clinic. This space was created with the recent expansion of our Family Birth Center. Approximately 1650 square feet in size, it is almost double the size of our current infusion area. All infusion rooms will have large exterior windows to maximize daylight exposure and provide lovely views of the Rims and Dehler Park.
For added patient safety, a private waiting room will be incorporated in the space, giving our immunocompromised children a safe place to wait for treatment. For efficient use of space, infusion rooms will also serve as exam rooms for our pediatric oncologist/hematologist and other care providers. Areas for private conversations with physicians and social workers, as well as space for a nutrition center, will also be incorporated into the design.
The new Pediatric Infusion Center will double the number of patients able to be treated at one time. Decorated in warm and engaging colors, the center will be appealing to children of all ages. Treatment rooms will be flexible, offering the opportunity for private space or semi-private space, whichever may best meet the emotional and physical needs of the child and their family. Rooms will be furnished with either comfortable recliners or a comfortable gurney to allow children to lie down during their treatment. Age-appropriate toys, games and electronic devices will be provided to give pleasant diversions for children undergoing hours of treatment
The cost to design, construct and equip the new Pediatric Infusion Center is anticipated to be approximately $500,000. Billings Clinic Foundation has raised $250,000 to date and hopes to raise the balance needed by Christmas. We are asking for your help not only through your gift but in making our cause come alive through the power of social media. You may give online here.