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St. Luke’s Wood River Offers Free Suction Clinic to Keep Babies Out of Hospital
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Friday, December 30, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

St. Luke’s has created temporary no-cost outpatient clinics for kids in response to an increased need for care for kids with respiratory viruses within St. Luke’s Health System and throughout the state.

Respiratory Outpatient Clinics have been established at St. Luke’s Wood River, as well as at St. Luke’s Boise, Meridian, Magic Valley, Nampa, Fruitland and Elmore.

The clinics offer deep suctioning of the nasal mucus and phlegm for children with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) or bronchiolitis, which causes inflammation of the small airways of the lungs. It is characterized by coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. The suctioning allows pediatric patients to breathe easier and, in some cases, stay out of the hospital.

Respiratory therapists at the clinics assess a child’s heart rate and oxygen levels and talk with families about the child’s eating habits, in addition to performing a suctioning treatment. Kids three and younger may be referred to the suctioning clinics by clinicians within St. Luke’s. If deemed necessary, the children will be moved to the emergency department for additional care.

Respiratory viruses often make eating and breathing very challenging, especially for babies who are unable to clear their nose and throat by themselves. Young children with inflamed respiratory passages can end up in the emergency department suffering from such things as dehydration, as a result.

Some children will be able to be cared for at home with the aid of daily visits to the Respiratory Outpatient Clinics, or suction clinics.

The clinics are a boon at a time when the hospital system is experiencing bed capacity issues, longer wait times in emergency departments and more patients being cared for in other parts of the hospital than would typically be cared for, said Dr. Kenny Bramwell, St. Luke’s Children’s system medical director.

“Through these new clinics, we have seen 235 visits among more than 100 kids in our communities in a matter of weeks,” said Bramwell. “Just one year ago, before these clinics existed, these kids would have gone to the emergency department or been admitted to the hospital for care. Through the Respiratory Outpatient clinics, we have kept more than 100 kids out of the hospital so far.”

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