When your child needs treatment for a burn, specialized care is key.
Burns are the fifth most common cause of non-fatal childhood injuries, according to the World Health Organization, and many of those burns require more than just a trip to the pediatrician’s office. Instead, a team approach is often needed involving doctors, therapists, social workers and other specialized providers.
In Michigan, the Burn Center at Children’s Hospital of Michigan is the only pediatric burn center in the state that’s verified by the American Burn Association and the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons.
“What it means is we follow proven, evidence-based burn care that is standard of care across the country,” says Dr. Christina Shanti, the chief of pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the program director of the Burn Center. “We also have in place a team of ancillary staff that are important to deliver comprehensive burn care to ensure best outcome for that child.”
That team includes several board-certified pediatric surgeons, pediatric burn nurses, physical and occupational therapists, nutritionists, social workers, child life specialists and psychologists who only see children.
“It’s not just about doing the wound care,” Dr. Shanti says. “It’s about providing the appropriate physical and occupational therapy that’s required after bigger burns. It’s providing the child life support, the psychological support, the social work … that you cannot find in just any hospital.”
The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Burn Center works with children of all ages and sees about 600 new patients each year. Some go straight to the ER for treatment after a burn while other families are referred to the center after first seeking care at a pediatrician’s office.
“We’re in a position to offer their child the best burn care and possible outcome,” Dr. Shanti says. The team’s extensive experience means they can also let parents know what to expect as far as healing and scarring. “The team of people that we have in place are people who’ve been doing this for a long time. These are therapists and nurses and physicians who are really dedicated to burn care. We really are passionate about it, and I think when families unfortunately have to experience that, and get to know us, they actually understand why we are different than just any other hospital providing care for a burn.”
Being located in a Children’s Hospital means patients benefit from features like art therapy, music therapy and child life specialists who work to ease kids’ anxiety while they’re at the hospital. The entire atmosphere, including the colorful decor, is geared toward kids.
“It’s just a more calming, receptive environment,” says Dr. Justin Klein, a pediatric surgeon and the associate director of the burn unit. “The whole team is dedicated to pediatric care … They’re not only being taken care of by experts in burn care, but also experts in pediatric care. All we do is take care of children.”
Children are seen at the center on an inpatient and outpatient basis.
“Just because they get treatment at the Burn Center doesn’t mean they have to stay at the hospital,” Dr. Shanti notes.
Seeking out that specialized care right away has proven benefits.
“We do actually see a difference in healing as well as the functional and cosmetic outcome in a lot of the burns that were immediately managed properly versus the ones that had delay in appropriate care,” she adds.
Serving a diverse population, the burn center’s experts care for patients from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and can offer insight on the healing process for different skin types.
“We see children of all ethnicities and different skin pigmentation,” Dr. Shanti says. “Skin pigmentation and ethnicity play a huge role in healing and scarring in general.”
The center receives support from the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation, which helps local families affected by burns to get supplies not covered by insurance. The CHM Foundation also supports the burn center’s injury prevention, education and research initiatives.
“We are fortunate,” Dr. Shanti says. “The CHM Foundation and its donors have been very generous to our burn patients over the years.”
For more information on the Burn Center, visit childrensdmc.org or call 313-745-KIDS.