5 Things for Parents to Know about Emergency Care

St. Mary's Pediatric Emergency MedicineHere’s the bad news: Emergencies happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year—even for the most cautious and well-prepared of parents.  The good news? Emergency care is always available at the Pediatric Emergency Department of Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. In fact, it’s the only emergency department in Richmond with board-certified, Pediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM) physicians on-site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

What sets the Bon Secours St. Mary’s Pediatric Emergency Department apart from other emergency and urgent care facilities is the level of care and treatment that this kid-friendly facility is capable of providing. That makes Bon Secours St. Mary’s the best option for immediate care when a child suffers life-threatening injuries or a very severe illness.

When a child is dehydrated, needs IV fluids, sedation or surgery, emergency care should be the priority. Other common emergencies for children treated at St. Mary’s include broken bones, lacerations, seizures, severe allergic reactions and fevers in children under two months of age.

Children living with chronic medical problems (such as asthma or sickle cell disease) who become sick are also often better candidates for care in a pediatric emergency department, rather than urgent care centers. Frank Petruzella, M.D., Medical Director of St. Mary’s Pediatric Emergency Department, says that treating children with asthma can reveal one of the most common delays in choosing urgent care over a pediatric emergency department.

“At St. Mary’s, we often see asthmatics that are having a significant asthma attack go to urgent care first, who then need to be transferred to the emergency department, often by ambulance,” Dr. Petruzella explains.

Why do so many parents choose the Pediatric Emergency Department at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital for their child’s medical emergencies? Dr. Petruzella sees the answer in the team assembled to treat children’s emergencies.

“When you bring your child to St. Mary’s, everyone that you’ll interact with here has the same goal, and that goal is really to treat your child the same way I would want my child treated when I take them to the emergency department,” he says.

In the St. Mary’s Pediatric Emergency Department, doctors are board-certified in pediatric emergency medicine, and the facility is staffed by a dedicated, highly trained pediatric emergency nursing team, along with an on-site Child Life Specialist (CLS) and board-certified neonatologists.

St. Mary’s Pediatric Emergency Department is also designed to be comfortable for children, with a kid- and family-friendly environment that includes features like an interactive butterfly wall and iPads loaded with games. With a separate entrance and a separate waiting room, St. Mary’s provides free parking and sleeping chairs for overnight visits.

And when a child is sick enough to require hospital admission, St. Mary’s maintains a full complement of pediatric specialists. Dr. Petruzella says, “In addition to having a separate pediatric emergency department, our children’s services at St. Mary’s are quite comprehensive, as we offer pediatric specialists and subspecialists in neurology, cleft and craniofacial care, endocrinology and diabetes, gastroenterology, pulmonary diseases and urology, among many others.”

Below, find five ways that parents can be better prepared, in the event that a child does need emergency care.


Think in advance about the steps you need to take if a child is ill or injured. Know the closest possible location for care, and always have your insurance information handy.


Feeling upset or uneasy when the child needs emergency care is perfectly normal. However, remaining calm will benefit both the child and the work of their caretakers.


If it’s possible, leaving brothers and sisters at home or with a relative will help you give the sick or injured child your full attention.


Precise, accurate explanations of how the child was injured, or the symptoms he or she is experiencing, can help caretakers diagnose and properly treat the child as quickly as possible.


Let the child’s doctor or pediatrician know the results of any emergency care, to make sure it’s noted in their medical file for future treatment.

To learn more about St. Mary’s Pediatric Emergency Department, please visit bonsecours.com/thatswhy.


Bon Secours Richmond
Bon Secours Richmond is part of Bon Secours Virginia, which provides good help to thousands of Virginians through a network of hospitals, primary and specialty care practices, ambulatory care sites and continuing care facilities across the Commonwealth. The not-for-profit health system employs more than 8,400 people, including nearly 420 providers as part of the Bon Secours Medical Group.