Wednesday was a joyous one at Tuscaloosa's DCH Regional Medical Center, where hospital leaders and staff celebrated the re-opening of a first-class pediatrics unit.

Dr. Cynthia Walker, the head of the new and improved unit, said the hospital had a similarly designated pediatric unit once, but it was taken offline and converted to a COVID unit to serve patients of greatest need during that crisis.

As the pandemic has finally loosened its stranglehold on local populations and healthcare centers, Walker said leadership agreed it was time to restore the pediatrics unit.

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(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
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'It's just wonderful that we have a unit dedicated to solely pediatrics that can serve our community, the county. al of west Alabama and south of us - we're just thrilled that we're providing an excellent quality of care," she said. "I hope pediatricians in the community will send their patients here, as well as the surgeons,  knowing we have nurses that this is all they do. We're looking forward to taking care of the asthma, the croup, the GI illnesses and everything in between."

Walker was joined by DCH CEO Katrina Keefer and Senior Vice President Luke Standeffer, who said improving patient care across the board has been a priority for the hospital since Keefer took the reins in summer 2022.

"When I arrived there were problems with our pediatric care delivery, There were perception problems and, perhaps, we knew we needed to elevate care," Keefer said. "These aren't just little adults. These are a specific creature."

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
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After Keefer cut the ribbon, hospital staff, local media and administrators toured the new unit, which will feature nurses who are specifically trained to treat children with routine childhood diseases or for pre-operation surgical preparation and the like.

The unit was brightly decorated and outfitted with a Walt Disney World theme, and each private room for the children was also vibrant and pre-stocked with toys and other diversions.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thred
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(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
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(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
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"What I've seen over the last several months is a great collaboration between medical staff, physicians, pediatricians, nurses and support staff all working together in the interest of one goal: how do we elevate care? And how do we provide for the community in terms of pediatric needs for Tuscaloosa West Alabama the surrounding areas?" Standeffer said. "Ultimately it's about people taking care of patients in the community and I'm very confident and very pleased that we're going to be able to do that with this new unit."

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
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"We look forward to welcoming you into our unit and hope that if you ever need care for your pediatric patient that you'll think of us first," Keefer said. "Now you've got another option and a way to keep your patients and the smallest ones at home."

For updates from DCH and across West Alabama, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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