Accessing high quality pediatric healthcare can be a challenge. It becomes more complicated if you are acting as the caregiver and your child requires specialized pediatric care. Once a decision is made for a child to receive care from Driscoll Health System, the Driscoll Access Center (DAC) team is here to help you. The DAC is a one-stop resource to ensure your child is directed to the pediatric subspecialty care they need.

Estela O’Daniell, MD & Mary Huckabee, MD - driscoll access center helping children receive care as quickly as possible
Estela O’Daniell, MD & Mary Huckabee, MD

Under the medical direction of Mary Huckabee, MD, Pediatric Hospitalist, and the leadership of Ann Blankenship, RN, MSN, NE-BC, the Driscoll Access Center has transitioned to a streamlined process that alerts providers of the request for care simultaneously allowing for seamless communication and deployment of resources. Estela O’Daniell, MD, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, also plays a key role by creating protocols that allow for “quick” acceptance of patients needing care.

“With many laws governing transfers, I felt that it was important to take that from the responsibility of the ED physicians to a more centralized and appropriate process such as what we have now with the DAC. This would make it simple and easy for our referring physicians to send us patients that needed specialty care,” said Dr. O’Daniell.

The Driscoll Access Center team of 11 critical care trained nursing professionals and five communication specialists is available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week in order to facilitate patient admissions, transfers, emergency referrals, physician consults and critical transports. During the initial referral call, the DAC works closely with the physician to triage the patient and encourages referring physicians to discuss transportation arrangements since a child’s condition can deteriorate rapidly. The staff is happy to serve as a resource to help referring physicians determine if emergency transportation (by air or ground) is necessary. If emergency transportation is required, the DAC will make all necessary arrangements. The Driscoll Children’s Hospital Transport Team, a group of professionals trained in the transport of critically ill children, works closely with the DAC and can deploy at a minute’s notice.

“Driscoll Children’s Hospital services a large population of patients in the Rio Grande Valley for surgical and subspecialty care,” said Dr. Huckabee, Medical Director of the Driscoll Access Center. “When pediatric patients present to local hospitals and require a higher level of pediatric care, we want the process of patient transfer to be quick and easy and safe.”

You may not be able to see the Driscoll Access Center; however, the goals we evaluate daily are to ensure we:

  • Provide a central point of communication for physicians wishing to access Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
  • Triage calls to the appropriate subspecialty physician/team.
  • Engage a multidisciplinary team, including attending physicians, to work in the best interest of your child.

“We continually monitor the system for areas of improvement,” said Dr. Huckabee. “The technology continues to improve and we will continue to adapt to make the transfer process as easy as possible for both our staff and referring providers. We continue to look for ways to improve feedback to our referral providers, in order that they can easily follow up on patients that are referred to Driscoll.”

“I am very pleased with the DAC and believe that we have a great process for being able to accept patients to Driscoll from the Rio Grande Valley in a streamlined and straightforward way (for the referring physician) and they know that their patients will receive great care when they refer to us,” said Dr. O’Daniell.