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Florida: Hospital emergency rooms earn "autism friendly" designations

May 4, 2023, S. Florida Hospital News: UHEALTH JACKSON CHILDREN’S CARE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS FIRST IN FLORIDA TO ACHIEVE AUTISM-FRIENDLY DESIGNATION THROUGH PARTNERSHIP WITH UM-NSU CARD https://southfloridahospitalnews.com/uhealth-jackson-childrens-care-emergency-departments-first-in-florida-to-achieve-autism-friendly-designation-through-partnership-with-um-nsu-card/


UHealth Jackson Children’s Care emergency departments collaborated with University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) to achieve autism-friendly designation, becoming the first network of pediatric emergency departments in Florida to receive this distinction.

“Our goal is to provide the highest quality care to every pediatric patient that steps through our doors, regardless of circumstance,” said Joanne Ruggiero, senior vice president and chief executive officer of Holtz Children’s Hospital and The Women’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial. “That is why we believe accessibility to health care that is inclusive for our special needs patients is not just necessary, but essential, making this designation a major step in the right direction.”

The autism-friendly designation means that the staff at all four emergency department locations – Holtz Children’s Hospital, Jackson North Medical Center, Jackson West Medical Center, and Jackson South Medical Center– have been specially trained to treat patients with autism and related disabilities. Additionally, all of the emergency departments now have a designated sensory-friendly exam room to give this patient population the opportunity to experience health care in a safe, comfortable, and controlled environment. The rooms feature soft music, dimmed lights, and a beanbag chair.

“We are proud to further develop our partnership with Jackson Health System as they continue to create safe spaces for patients with autism and related disabilities,” said Dr. Michael Alessandri, executive director of UM-NSU CARD. “This designation among the UHealth Jackson Children’s Care emergency departments shows that with the right team of compassionate caregivers, we can work together to make health care more accessible for everyone.”…

Autistic patients who visit our pediatric emergency departments will now receive a sensory kit to help ease the stress of their visit. The kit includes a puzzle piece stress reliever, fidget spinner, and gel bead pad. Patients can then take the kits home after their visit.

To help prepare autistic patients for an upcoming visit to our pediatric emergency departments, we have designed a booklet, My Visit to UHealth Jackson Children’s Care Emergency Department, that is available on our website and shows photos of what they can expect.


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