An $8 million fundraising campaign is now underway at Connecticut Children’s to build a state-of-the-art Infusion & Dialysis Center, where patients requiring infusion therapy for a range of chronic illnesses — and those requiring outpatient pediatric dialysis services — will receive world-class care close to home.
Each year, about 3,400 infusions are administered to patients at Connecticut Children’s, with illnesses ranging from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis to rheumatoid arthritis, infectious disease and more. But the existing infusion suite in the Gastroenterology Division is equipped with only six infusion chairs and can no longer comfortably accommodate the growing needs of patients and their families.
“The past decade has seen a tremendous increase in the use of biologic medications to treat a variety of immune-mediated conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis,” said Jeffrey Hyams, MD, Division Head of Gastroenterology and Director of the Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Connecticut Children’s. “Many of these medications are given intravenously over one to two hours.”
“The space we currently utilize opened 20 years ago when we had 20 percent of the patient volume we have now,” Dr. Hyams explained. “Given that patient and family experience is a critical part of our mission, the need for a larger, friendlier and safer environment to provide this therapy is critically important.”
The new center, which will be built on the 4th floor of the Medical Center in the former Executive Management Suite, will provide ample space that is quiet, private and comfortable for children and their families.
PEDIATRIC OUTPATIENT DIALYSIS FACILITY A FIRST IN THE STATE
The new facility at Connecticut Children’s will also provide outpatient dialysis services for children, making it the first center of its kind in the state.
“Children needing outpatient dialysis will be getting the highest level of care at our new center,” said Cynthia Silva, Division Head of Nephrology and Medical Director of Connecticut Children’s Center for Kidney and Bladder Disorders.
Children awaiting kidney transplants are among those who rely on regular outpatient dialysis. When their kidneys no longer function, children as young as 15 months of age may require dialysis three to five times a week for up to three to four hours per session.
According to Dr. Silva, at any given time, there are between three and five pediatric patients at Connecticut Children’s who need outpatient dialysis while awaiting transplant.
“Currently, these children are dialyzed in facilities alongside adults – without toys or Child Life Specialists or nurses trained in pediatrics,” she explained. “It’s so traumatizing just to need dialysis; it’s like adding insult to injury to send them away to an adult facility. The new center will provide them with child-appropriate care at the Medical Center.”
Outpatient dialysis services are also used on a short-term basis for children whose kidneys are not functioning properly due to illness, such as hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a condition in which the kidneys’ filtering system is damaged. The most common cause of HUS in children is an Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection of the digestive system, typically caused by uncooked meat or unwashed lettuce.
Dr. Silva said they see about five children a year who require dialysis for HUS.
“In those cases, sometimes it takes three to six months for children to recover their kidney function,” Dr. Silva said.
A NEPHROLOGY FELLOWSHIP
In addition to providing needed pediatric outpatient dialysis services, the new center will pave the way toward a Nephrology Fellowship at Connecticut Children’s.
“Getting a dialysis center is the first step toward a Nephrology Fellowship,” Dr. Silva said. “Our ability to train and attract talent in our state would be fantastic, and we would be able to offer more services on-site. A fellowship of that nature would be phenomenal.”
“We’re already involved in cutting-edge research,” Dr. Silva said, “but this will elevate the care we provide for our children.”
For more information on the Infusion and Dialysis Center, to view donor testimonials, or make a donation, please visit the campaign webpage.