February 1, 2002

Information kiosk helps families in pediatric critical care unit

Featured Image

Tina Meredith, left, of Child Life Services shows Ruth Hawkins, a grandmother of a patient in the Pediatric Critical Care Unit, how to use the new Family Information Station located outside the PCCU waiting area on the fifth floor of Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. Meredith helped Barbara Ramsey of Family Resource Services put together information to be included on the site. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Information kiosk helps families in pediatric critical care unit

The touch screen enables families to gain information about VCH and services. (photo by Dana Johnson)

The touch screen enables families to gain information about VCH and services. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Who was that medical specialist? What does an IMED pump look like? What are some suggestions to help our family cope? Families and visitors to the Children’s Hospital pediatric critical care unit (PCCU) can now search for these answers, thanks to a new computerized education and information center.

The information kiosk, located on the 5th floor of VUH, outside the PCCU family waiting area, has been in operation for more than a month and has answered more than 1,000 questions posed by families and visitors to the PCCU. Queries have varied from asking about the abbreviations on name badges to local accommodations.

“Responses from PCCU families and staff about the new kiosk have been extremely positive,” said Barbara Ramsey, Ph.D., director of the Junior League Family Resource Center (FRC).

A task force was established to guide the kiosk project and included members from the FRC, the Family Advisory Council, Child Life Services, social work, marketing, and University Publications and Design Creative Services. The project was in development for more than two years and originated with a request from Dr. Jay Deshpande, professor of Pediatrics and director of the division of Pediatric Critical Care and Anesthesia, who wanted the FRC to assist in developing educational materials for families in the PCCU area.

“Based on our research, it became evident that a brochure or booklet would not provide sufficient information,” Ramsey said. “From there, the idea of an information touch screen kiosk developed.”

Families of children who had experiences in the PCCU were asked about their interest in working with the task force on developing educational materials.

“Families of children who had had experiences in the PCCU provided invaluable direction and guidance,” Ramsey said. “An open-ended telephone interview protocol was developed and fifteen families were interviewed. Detailed questions to the families covered their initial impressions of the PCCU at admission, their experiences with the care of their child in the PCCU, in the waiting room, and their transition from the PCCU. Families were also asked about their learning preferences under these stressful conditions, and for suggestions and ideas to better address their informational and support needs.”

“One of the most challenging pieces of the project was the variety of areas needing to be addressed—emergency services, medical specialists and procedures, roles of staff, care of the child and other family members, and the overall trauma on the family,” said Trudy McWhirt, Family Advisory Council project coordinator.

Once the research was complete, the information was reviewed and organized into sections according to the needs of a child in the PCCU, the needs of family members and friends, and relevant services and resources with Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and the local community.

Vanderbilt University Publications and Design Creative Services then designed computer software, and the information was merged into the layout and design of the kiosk.

“It was a challenge dealing with the different software platforms and navigational capabilities,” explained Julie Turner, a graphic designer with creative services. “Not only was the material to be used on the kiosk, but we designed it also to be used as a Web site.”

The project was funded by Friends of Children’s Hospital and Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Marketing. Another kiosk is in development for the neonatal intensive care unit. If successful at meeting families needs, some 30 kiosks will be placed throughout the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, currently under construction. The kiosks may also offer the information in several different languages.

“This has been a collaborative effort demanding time and expertise of a wide range of family and VCH caregivers,” Ramsey said.