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Blythedale’s Mission to Serve Medically Fragile Children Better

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Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla recently introduced its expanded Therapy Village, which features the latest advances to help children who are undergoing physical and occupational therapy.

This article was corrected on May 10 at about 9:15 a.m. Correction details are beneath the article.

For more than a decade Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla continues to reimagine space at its Bradhurst Avenue facility.

Two weeks ago, the latest phase of its $150 million, 14-year facilities plan was completed with the opening of the expanded Therapy Village, now measuring 5,000 square feet and home to the latest technological advances for physical and occupational therapy.

Blythedale also opened its Family Education Center, which replicates bedside and home environments where parents can learn how to care for a medically fragile child before they go home.

The additions come after the hospital opened its inpatient pavilion in 2011, which now contains 94 beds, the first step in the multiphase makeover of Blythedale. That was followed by the introduction of the speech and auditory and the day program spaces and the opening of its long-term care pavilion with 24 beds. An administrative suite and eight new beds for the Traumatic Brain Injury Unit have also been completed.

John Flanagan, vice president of operations for Blythedale, said as needs and expectations in the care for medically fragile change, particularly with the acute care facilities, Blythedale is also expected to provide more services.

“There’s a lot of kids here, and with the population growth in Westchester, Rockland and up into Dutchess, and then a lot of our kids come from New York City,” Flanagan said. “There’s definitely been increased demand.”

The vast majority of children cared for at Blythedale go home, but often they need to return for a wide variety of therapies and treatments, he said. The hospital has developed expertise in helping children with traumatic brain injuries and taking babies who were in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to allow their lungs more time to develop after coming from one of the acute care facilities such as Maria Fareri’s Children’s Hospital or the children’s hospitals at Montefiore or NewYork-Presbyterian.

Flanagan said most of Blythedale’s patients are receiving physical therapy, feeding therapy or speech therapy, and many have respiratory issues. But neither is the hospital an exclusively rehabilitative facility.

It may seem counterintuitive that during the implementation of its facilities plan that Blythedale would need both a long-term pavilion and a simulation lab that prepares parents to provide the care that their child will need at home.

“Unfortunately, many of our kids with medical complexities, probably over 90 percent of our kids, go home.” Flanagan said. “But for that 10 percent that do not, there’s really not a lot of places they can go to. So that’s what prompted us to open the 24 long-term care beds.”

The only remaining projects from the facilities plan is the opening of a new modernized pharmacy and an assistive technology workshop.

Beyond that, the administration at Blythedale is constantly assessing its needs with an eye toward serving children into the future.

“What I think is exciting is because we’re not staying stagnant,” Flanagan said. “We’re always looking to see how we can do better and continue to serve this population of medically fragile children – because that’s actually our niche and that’s what our mission is, to care for medically fragile children.”


An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that the addition of a new administrative suite and eight new beds has yet to be completed as part of the hospital’s long-range facilities plan. Those additions have already been made. This article was corrected at about 9:15 a.m. on May 10. We regret the error.

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