News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 5, 2012

Riley burn unit’s growth ‘amazing’

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana’s only pediatric burn center is about to get a lot bigger.

Kathy McGregor, clinical manager of the Riley Burn Center, said the unit will officially move into its spacious new digs on Dec. 12.

“We’ve been working on this for about two years,” she said.

The new unit will be on the fifth floor of the Simon Family Tower, part of Indiana University Health family of facilities, which includes Riley Hospital for Children and the Indiana University Medical Center.

At the state’s only burn unit dedicated to pediatric patients, that facilities are about five times larger than present, with 10 private rooms and family-friendly amenities, McGregor said. Private laundry equipment, restrooms and showers for families are located in each room, along with computer and gaming ports.

“All these things that we don’t have now, plus they’re spacious,” she said.

The unit treats about 300 burn patients each year, from newborns through 18-year-olds.

“Most of the patients that we see are under the age of 4. They’re just a very vulnerable portion of the population,” McGregor said, explaining their soft skin and curiosity can turn hot coffee and even noodles into a disaster. Microwavable noodles are among the most common causes of pediatric burns, she said. Campfires are another.

McGregor, a registered nurse, has worked in the unit more than 30 years, and she said most of the staff are likewise experienced.

“It’s an area people tend to stay in when they’re passionate about what they do,” she said, crediting technological advancements as helping save children who, 30 years ago, would have died from their injuries. “To watch it grow has been amazing.”

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or