BOARDMAN, Ohio – A years-long effort to improve access to care for local families was borne out in measurable ways at Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley in 2023. Even further progress is projected to continue this year.
The biggest milestone from 2023 was the completion and opening of the pediatric emergency department expansion in April. It’s the only emergency department in the area staffed 24/7 with board-certified pediatric emergency medicine physicians.
More than $3.1 million from private, local donations through Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation helped make the project a reality. The new space increased the department’s footprint more than threefold to 34,700 square feet. The ER Department comprises 23 treatment rooms and three behavioral health rooms.
In terms of patient access, the emergency department experienced one of its highest-volume years with nearly 40,000 patients treated.
“We’re not only bigger but we’re better,” says Paul Olivier, vice president of Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley. “The new space has made patient flow more speedy and efficient, which translates into less time in waiting rooms and greater patient and employee satisfaction.”
Mental health visits contributed significantly to the emergency department numbers but also on an outpatient basis. Akron Children’s continues to add capacity to treat emotional, behavioral and developmental disorders at its Behavioral Health Center.
The hospital system also continues to add clinical services and resources at its Boardman campus and throughout the Mahoning Valley. Thirty new providers were recruited in 2023 and nearly 2,500 surgeries were performed locally, the most ever.
“The surgeries number is notable because patient families used to have to travel to Akron for many types of surgeries that we now have the capability to perform right here close to home,” Olivier says. “That’s quite a convenience to families. Plus, it reduces the time and transportation cost burden that many families face.”
A gift from The Cafaro Foundation helped to establish the area’s first pediatric sleep lab that opened in September. Pediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine physician Dr. Swaroop Pinto serves as the medical director. She specializes in treating kids with sleep-related breathing disorders.
Additional growth took place in Campbell with the opening of the hospital system’s 40th pediatric primary care office in August. It is open six days per week, including Saturday mornings, and it has a mental health therapist available for patients on Mondays.
In 2024, staff is being added to the Quick Care Online service to allow for more virtual appointments. “This is a service that continues to grow in popularity every year as patient families become more familiar with it and recognize its convenience,” Olivier says.
Quick Care Online connects patients with Akron Children’s providers by live video for minor illnesses and common health issues.
In addition to major gifts received for the emergency department expansion and sleep lab, the hospital’s foundation reported its largest individual donations were from Kathy Kennedy for the chaplaincy and palliative care programs and the Kikel Charitable Foundation for an area of greatest need.