Skip to content
News, Announcements and Expert Commentary from Inova

New Child-Friendly Emergency Room Opens at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital

Attention Northern Virginia parents: check out the new child-friendly Pediatric ER at Inova Fair Oaks

a doctor and nurse gently examine a toddler on a special pediatric exam tableWhen kids go to the emergency room, they need special treatment. That’s why the expert staff at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital Emergency Center, who treat more than 10,000 children a year, decided to take it to the next level. A generous donation made by Virginia Emergency Medicine Associates (VEMA) earlier this year has allowed Inova Fair Oaks Medical Campus (IFOMC) to raise the bar for its youngest patients.

Website: Inova Fair Oaks Hospital Pediatric Emergency Room (ER)

“Children requiring emergency care have unique needs, especially when emergencies are serious or life-threatening,” says Nicholas Sutingco, MD, FACEP, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at IFOMC. “True pediatric emergency departments have dedicated pediatric administrative leadership, depth of pediatric experience, specialized equipment, established relationships with pediatric specialists and services, and a focus on the unique aspects of the family’s experience.”

The 35-bed Emergency Center offers the highest level of care for infants, children and adolescents. All VEMA physicians on staff are board-certified in emergency medicine or pediatric emergency medicine and all of the nurses are trained in pediatric advanced life support (PALS).

Putting Families at Ease

Being in the ER can be stressful for kids and their families. To make young patients feel more at ease, the Inova Fair Oaks Hospital Emergency Center has added a designated pediatric entrance to the treatment rooms, a separate child-friendly waiting room and private rooms for young patients. The pediatric nurses’ station has also been renovated to be more accessible to families.

“When children and families walk into the emergency room, our goal is to put them at ease and reinforce that they will receive the best care possible,” says Clinical Director Cecilia Mortorano.

To help young patients navigate their ER visits, IFOMC has implemented a Child Life Program to provide comfort and emotional support. The Child Life specialists and ER staff are trained to help children understand any procedures they require, and engage the children and families in comfort positioning and alternative focus exercises during procedures to relieve pain and anxiety.

“Child Life specialists are key to having that positive experience,” says Dr. Sutingco. “A true pediatric emergency room is not just focused on high-quality care, but also focuses on alleviating the stress families experience in the ER.”

New technological advances have also been added to make each child’s experience as comfortable as possible. The team is excited to offer nitrous oxide — a safe, gentle inhaled sedation agent commonly used in dentist offices. “Nitrous oxide is a big technological boost to us and it will help make care easier,” says Paul Tripathi, MD, lead pediatric physician for VEMA and Chair of the Inova Pediatric Emergency Services system team.

Providing technology tailored to the safety and comfort of children makes a visit to the ER less traumatizing for young patients and their families.

“When a hospital has a designated pediatric area, you know they’re paying attention to the needs of the community,” says Dr. Tripathi. “A pediatric emergency room sends the signal that your children are just as important to us as they are to you.”

Strong Partnership

While most pediatric emergencies can be taken care of locally, occasionally the need arises for specialized care. To ensure that every child who receives care at the Inova Fair Oaks Hospital Emergency Center has access to top specialty services, the ER has established a sophisticated telemedicine system.

“We were the first community ER in Northern Virginia to establish a pediatric intensive care telemedicine relationship with the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Inova Children’s Hospital at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus,” says Dr. Sutingco. “We have 24/7 access to pediatric critical care specialists, and they can see and talk to our patients and our staff through a high-definition camera within minutes.”

Adds Dr. Tripathi, “Telemedicine brings a whole new dimension of care to our patients, which builds on the strong pediatric and neonatal teams we’ve always had at IFOMC.”

If a young patient requires highly specialized critical medicine or surgical services, the Inova Children’s Hospital Critical Care Ambulance is available to transport them directly to the appropriate physician at Inova Children’s Hospital.

See for Yourself

Join us this spring for a behind-the-scenes tour of the new Pediatric ER. To receive an invitation to the Pediatric Emergency Room Open House, please visit

The Gift of Health

To expand services at Inova Fair Oaks Emergency Center, Virginia Emergency Medicine Associates (VEMA), a multispecialty physician group that provides medical services at the hospital, has committed to donating $500,000 to pediatric services and nursing education.

“We want to promote outstanding pediatric care for our patients at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital,” says John Jones, MD, a pediatric emergency physician and Chief Financial Officer for VEMA. “We are going to focus on adding equipment to better take care of children and allow us to provide additional education to our staff.”

The donation is intended to fulfill the growing demand for pediatric services in the community.

“We believe that the addition of Child Life specialists and pediatric-specific technology gives us an opportunity to take another step forward in terms of the sophistication of care offered at Inova Fair Oaks Medical Campus,” says John Fitzgerald, Chief Executive Officer of Inova Fair Oaks Medical Campus.

Kid-friendly emergency medical services in Northern Virginia

Leave a Comment