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May 28, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

New TriStar Autism ER

While it's never fun taking children to the ER, TriStar Centennial makes it easier for children with sensory issues.

No parents wants to have to take their child to the ER. For those who have kids with sensory issues, the excursion is all-the-more taxing. However, there's great news from The Children's Hospital at TriStar Centennial.  The hospital's pediatric ER and the Kids Express Clinic are both piloting autism and sensory-friendly rooms to help ease anxiety and provide a smoother experience for families.


TriStar's new sensory-friendly rooms feature adaptable lights, monitor and sound control, specialized toys and visual story boards to help prepare young patients for procedures. In addition, hospital staff have been educated in autism spectrum disorder and sensory challenges. Doctors, nurses and childlife specialists are current on best practices communicating with sensory sensitive patients. "We understand an ER visit can be stressful and overstimulating for pediatric patients with sensory sensitivities," says Joann Ettien, chief operating officer of The Children's Hospital at TriStar Centennial. "Our goal is to reduce anxiety and to create a calming environment," she adds.


The new rooms are also available at the Kids Express Clinic. Pediatricians may refer kids to the clinic for a variety of outpatient services. The clinic staff has been trained in sensory disorders. Furthermore, there is a dedicated room in the clinic with specialized toys. To alert the staff to a child's sensory disorder, fill out a form upon arrival. You'll be able to inform staff  about your child's specific communication abilities and stressors. Launched in June, TriStar Centennial plans to extend the service hospital-wide in the coming months.


Celebrating its first year of service, The Pediatric Emergency Department at The Children's Hospital at TriStar Centennial is the recipient of an accolade. It has the highest patient satisfaction scores in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey for all HCA hospitals. Furthermore, the hospital was is in the 98th percentile of all hospitals in the country participating in the survey and 99th in Tennessee. The survey is a public reporting initiative measuring patients' perspectives on hospital care. "I am very proud of our pediatric ER staff, and we look forward to continuing to serve our growing community for many years to come," says Ettien. "Our staff is committed to providing high-quality emergency care and ensuring the best outcomes for our pediatric patients."

The Pediatric Emergency Department at The Children's Hospital at TriStar Centennial is located at 2220 Patterson St., Nashville. Call 615-342-1000 or visit

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