Nurse delivers care to a young patient
Matthew Manor

Unless you have visited KHSC’s inpatient pediatrics unit recently, you might not have noticed some drastic changes in the way highly specialized pediatric care is being delivered here at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC).

In fact, over the last few years, KHSC has made significant strides to enhance the types of care it offers to the young patients of southeastern Ontario through the Pediatric Critical Care Unit (PCCU) and Inpatient Pediatric Unit on Kidd 10. The hospital’s main goal is that kids in the region receive top-notch care closer to home.

Dr. Anupam Sehgal, Program Medical Director and pediatric intensivist, says that people in the community might not be aware of the types of specialized care that KHSC is now able to provide.

"Whenever we talk about it with people, even here in the hospital, they aren't necessarily aware of what we we’ve been up to lately here in pediatrics," Dr. Sehgal noted. “We’ve been able to expand the types of care we offer and have increased the complexity of patients we can care for. In the past, many patients would have to be transferred to other cities, but now we can care for those patients here in Kingston. We have really reduced the number of patients that have to be transferred elsewhere for care.”

KHSC operates now 17 beds on its inpatient pediatric unit, with six of those located inside KHSC’s Pediatric Critical Care Unit (PCCU). This unit, a Level 2 facility specializing in the care of critically ill patients requiring non-invasive ventilation, recently expanded from four beds to six thanks to a one-million-dollar provincial investment earlier this year. In fact, KHSC now operates 12 per cent of the total Level 2 pediatric critical care beds in the entire province.

“In the past parents often assumed they would be transferred to another hospital like the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). But now they are starting to understand that we can offer that type of care here at KHSC,” says Dr. Sehgal. “We do still have some limitations, particularly for kids requiring invasive ventilation or for some trauma cases, but we can now manage a much broader range of complex patients and even accept transfers from other pediatric hospitals, like we did last year during respiratory illness season.”

In addition to the PCCU, KHSC is only hospital in southeastern Ontario to house an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit for pediatric patients, a service typically found in specialized pediatric hospitals such as the CHEO or SickKids. This service enables neurologists to provide monitoring and management of epilepsy patients here at home.

Growing to meet increasing patient demand

Recent census data highlights a growing pediatric patient population here in Kingston, with both patient numbers and workload steadily increasing over the last several years. On average, KHSC admits about 5-10 pediatric patients daily, emphasizing the importance of managing the local pediatric community close to home.

To meet those growing needs, KHSC has been hard at work recruiting the specialized staff to deliver this complex care.

“We’ve been able to recruit pediatric gastroenterologists, neurologists, expand the number of cardiologists, and recruit respirologists who have been valuable additions to our community. We also have three Neonatologists who will be joining our team early next year,” says Dr. Sehgal. “Further recruitment efforts will continue to grow the team, with plans to hire more pediatricians and intensivists in the future.”

Using partnerships and technology to leverage expertise across Ontario

The introduction of a virtual critical care program has been a game-changer, allowing KHSC to collaborate with teams at CHEO through the Ontario Telemedicine Network for consultation on complex cases.

“This not only helps keep kids in Kingston for treatment but also eases parents' concerns about the quality of care being delivered,” says Dr. Sehgal. “Now regardless of who is on call at KHSC, we can quickly access experts at any hour of the day to talk about how best to treat a patient. Using virtual care has an added benefit because the experts in other communities can now directly see the patients we are caring for and hear from the family in the room.”

Meanwhile, to ensure the department is fully prepared for any potential surge of patients with respiratory illnesses this fall, KHSC has been working closely with other pediatric hospitals across the province to develop response plans.

“We’ve held table-top exercises to make sure we are prepared to quickly increase our services, or to expand the capacity of the Pediatric Critical Care Unit and inpatient pediatric floor if we see a surge,” says Damiano Loricchio, Program Operational Director of KHSC’s Women and Children’s programs. “We were able to do this successfully last year and accept more than 25 patient transfers from other areas of the province and these exercises will help make sure we can quickly upscale again this year if needed.”


Becoming a key cog in the Ontario pediatric care system

Overall, the changing approach at KHSC reflects the hospital’s commitment to patient and family-centred care, keeping patients closer to home and reducing stress for not only young patients, but their parents and extended families.

“It’s pretty clear that the last thing you want to think about when you are the parent of a sick child is where you will sleep or how you will get support from your friends and family back home if you’ve been transferred to a hospital in another city,” says Loricchio. “We’re really proud of the growth we’ve been able to accomplish over the last few years and we’re now being seen as a really important part of the provincial pediatric care network.”

“As KHSC continues to play an increasing role in the Ontario healthcare system, families can rest assured that their children are receiving care and treatment from some of the most skilled and a highly trained teams in the country.”

With its expanded services, KHSC is poised to continue to meet the growing healthcare needs of southeastern Ontario's pediatric population, helping children thrive and families feel confident in their care.

Interested in supporting KHSC’s future growth as a pediatric care centre? You can help by donating to help purchase new medical equipment, or supplies aimed at making these young patients’ stay in hospital more comfortable. To donate today, visit for more information.