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Hospital Program has Village Connection

Pediatrician starts therapy project for kids

When Thomas McLaughlin was running through the woods outside Lions Bay School as a child, he always knew he wanted to grow up to help people. These days, he's a pediatrician at BC Children's Hospital, and the driving force behind a life-changing program for sick kids and their families in British Columbia.

PIVOT (Pediatric Intravenous Outpatient Therapy) is a program initiated by McLaughlin and his team at BC Children's hospital that allows children to receive part of their care at home.

As a pilot program in 2023, the project proved itself by saving around 1,000 patient-days over the year. That translated into almost 1,000 times where an otherwise-well child didn't have to be in hospital and could receive treatment at home. The hospital was able to repurpose those acute-care resources for the sick kids who really needed them.

McLaughlin had noticed that a lot of children had to stay in hospital to complete intravenous treatments, even when they were otherwise well. "The most common reason for children to be admitted to hospital is infection, and many children with infections require long treatment courses of intravenous antibiotics," he says.

He knew other adult and pediatric hospitals had programs allowing patients to receive IV antibiotics at home. "So, with support from our hospital's foundation and a project team, we developed a new care model and launched the PIVOT program at the start of 2023."

In practical terms, this meant that six local kids were able to stay at home for the holidays. "I'm just really proud of the team and being able to support kids from age 2 weeks to 19 years returning to normal life after a serious illness."

The PIVOT pilot iwas initially supported by the BC Children's Hospital Foundation, but now its success means the hospital is now transitioning to a permanent, government-funded program. 

McLaughlin is excited about the possibilities.

"We have set a goal that children shouldn't be limited from accessing home IV antibiotics because of where they live or who they are," he says. "There are still some areas of the province that don't have reliable internet or local healthcare resources. We hope to be able to expand to reach more children who live in these smaller areas."

After leaving Lions Bay School via Gleaneagles and Rockridge, McLaughlin completed a degree in biophysics at the University of British Columbia. He finished medical school at the University of Toronto followed by a pediatrics residency at the city's Hospital for Sick Children. After completing a Master's degree in Health Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School in Boston, the pull of home proved too great, and he's been working at BC Children's Hospital since 2019.

McLaughlin's wife is also a practicing physician, and they are the proud parents of a 21 month old son. "Being a two doctor family has its challenges - mostly just related to how busy we both are - but it also means that we can relate to each other's work in a really meaningful way," he says.

His position at BC Children's means that he takes care of a wide range of patients from tiny newborns to burly adolescents. And while he developed and ran the pediatric COVID ward at the hospital, he also works with patients who aren't acutely sick but have significant social, developmental or behavioural challenges.

McLaughlin says he looks forward to expanding the virtual support PIVOT offers to families regardless of where they live in the province. To find out more about PIVOT, check out their website or online information video HERE.

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