Delta, CO (January 12, 2024) – Delta Health proudly announces its achievement of the Colorado Pediatric Preparedness for Emergency Rooms (COPPER) Pediatric Advanced Designation, a significant milestone in pediatric emergency care. As the first hospital in the Western Region to secure this designation, and the fourth hospital in the state, Delta Health Emergency Department demonstrates its commitment to ensuring the highest standards for handling pediatric emergencies.
Administered by the Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) program in Colorado, COPPER is a designation program designed to evaluate emergency departments based on evidence-based guidelines and best practices. It focuses on critical aspects of pediatric emergency care, including equipment, medication, protocols, and staff training.
Leading the charge for Delta Health’s COPPER designation is Kayleigh Wright, Delta Health Trauma Nurse Coordinator.
“While pulling data I noted a significant increase in our pediatric trauma patients. In March 2023 our trauma number had doubled for kids, where we had already seen where in 2022 in that same period, we had only seen four,” said Wright. Those seem like small numbers, but given how rural we are that is a big deal for kids.”
Wright soon started spearheading the initiative after attending the annual PECC (Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinator) Seminar with her partner Caryl Showalter RN.
“Caryl has a true passion for our pediatric population, her knowledge and drive made her stand out to become a true champion for this program,” stated Wright.
After the seminar, Kayleigh and Caryl quickly realized what a huge resource the COPPER program would be for Delta Health and the community. In June of 2023, they presented their findings and the COPPER program to the Emergency Room physicians for the first time – gaining both administrative and physician support. They continued with the process of creating a team to include Caryl Showalter Emergency Room RN, Tracy Kastner, Respiratory Therapist, and Dr. Jennifer Craig.
“This designation underscores our commitment to the well-being of our community’s children, ensuring they receive the best possible care during emergencies,” states Julie Huffman, Delta Health Interim CEO and CLO. “We are extremely proud of the staff who invested their time, talents and passion to make this a reality.”
Delta Health, a level IV trauma center, does not have a dedicated pediatric unit, which emphasizes the importance of COPPER in providing education, tools, and support for pediatric patients seen through its Emergency Department. The hospital’s efforts align with the National Pediatric Readiness Project’s mission to improve readiness for U.S. Emergency Departments in caring for children.
Visual changes that can be seen include a room dedicated specifically for pediatric patients, with distraction toys for a more of a calming, less frightening environment. This child focused setting will help decrease the trauma children often experience coming to the emergency room, coupled with the emergent situation that originally brought them in. The staff has also been trained on the importance of family-centered care, which includes keeping whomever the child identifies as a family in their vicinity during care to help calm, and be a source of security to the pediatric patients.
Highlighting the critical role COPPER plays, the program aids in reducing mortality associated with pediatric illnesses by 76% and pediatric injuries by 60%. In 2022, Delta Health saw 35 children for pediatric trauma, and 40 in 2023.
“We are currently the first hospital in the west region to have this designation. If you have a sick child or injured, Delta Health has gone through the process, education and has implemented more policies to better care and provide for that population; leading to less deaths related to the injury and illness,” said Wright.
“Our quality of care overall since implementing our additional education and policies surrounding the pediatric population has improved,” said Wright. “I have seen a shift in our staff, beginning to feel more comfortable and confident taking care of this vulnerable population.”
Delta Health maintains close relationships with larger facilities like SMMC and Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, emphasizing the need for effective patient transfers.
Delta Health also maintains a close relationship with Delta Ambulance District, which is Colorado Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinator (COPECC) certified. Delta Health will begin quarterly hands-on education with the ambulance district to make sure the full continuity of care is provided to the patient.
To enhance staff preparedness, in 2021 Delta Health Foundation supported the hospital in gifting a SimNewB infant simulator. The SimNewB simulator helps to foster realistic training for critical interventions and contributes to improving neonatal resuscitation and enhancing staff skills in handling pediatric emergencies. In 2023, Delta Health Foundation purchased all of the pediatric items such as toys, to support Delta Health Emergency Department’s pursuit of the COPPER Designation.
“The Foundation was honored to use this grant money to highlight support for labor and delivery services at Delta Health,” says Delta Health Foundation President, Darnell Place-Wise. “It’s an incredibly vital component for our community; the infant simulator will help train staff for many years to come.”
Beyond COPPER requirements, Delta Health has implemented additional measures, including quarterly pediatric education for the entire hospital. The hospital’s commitment extends to addressing pediatric early warning signs, updating equipment, and incorporating child life services to support psychological and physical care.
The hospital’s journey to becoming a pediatric-ready Emergency Department emphasizes the importance of the COPPER designation not only in reducing pediatric mortality but also in empowering the staff to provide high-quality care. Since implementing COPPER in December, Delta Health’s Pediatric Readiness score has increased to 100% as noted by COPPER Project Director Dr. Kathleen Adelgais. With this increase, Delta Health is now recognized as an Elite Hospital for Pediatric Readiness within the nation.
Delta Health continues to strive for pediatric excellence, embracing changes brought about by the COPPER program to better serve this special and vulnerable population.
About Delta Health – Delta Health (DH) is a nonprofit, county-wide healthcare system with a 49-bed hospital and at locations throughout Delta County, Colorado. DH’s mission is to inspire hope in a healing environment by providing remarkable care. Established in 1913, Delta County Memorial Hospital, now doing business as Delta Health, has been serving the region for over 100 years. DH continues to provide compassionate, quality healthcare that the community can trust. For more information go to deltahealthco.org, like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok @DeltaHealthCo. You can also follow our YouTube page.