The Memorial Health Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children's Hospital of Savannah is the only children's hospital in southeast Georgia. From the tiniest preemies to the toughest teens, we offer a variety of crucial services. Our expert team provides well-child visits, comprehensive rehabilitation services, surgical care, hematology/oncology, critical care, disease management, child life services and much more.
For questions, please call (912) 350-PEDS (7337).
Pediatric inpatient unit
The Memorial Health Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah cares for more than 50,000 children each year.
Our 20-bed pediatric unit has a team of specially trained physicians, nurses and child life specialists. We strive to provide state-of-the-art care in a child and family friendly environment. Children in this unit may have anything from a stomach bug and dehydration to an infection requiring IV antibiotics. The medical care team on this unit is equipped to deal with a wide variety of childhood illnesses and injuries.
Pediatric special care unit
Our 22-bed pediatric special care unit (PSU) is for children who need to stay in the hospital to receive cancer treatment or recover from surgery. The PSU team includes specially certified hematology/oncology physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and child life specialists. They work together to ensure the best possible outcome for every child.
Pediatric physical therapy and rehabilitation
Licensed physical therapists at The Memorial Health Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children's Hospital of Savannah provide treatment for children and adolescents. Services include thorough assessment and intervention in the following areas:
- Gross motor skills
- Torticollis and plagiocephaly
- Cranial molding helmets
- Splinting, casting and bracing
- Range of motion
- Adaptive equipment
- Posture and balance
- Pain management
- Wound care
- Mobility and walking
- Motor learning and coordination
- Gait training
- Sensory integration
We offer the following rehabilitation services for children and adolescents:
- Arranging an evaluation
- Assistive technology
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Speech and language therapy
- Splints and casting
- Therapeutic feeding
Physical therapy can be especially beneficial to children with cerebral palsy, neuromotor problems, Down syndrome, congenital anomalies, spina bifida, traumatic brain injuries, burns, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic problems, neck tightness (torticollis), head and back pain or muscular dystrophy.
Many techniques are used to help children reach their highest level of independence, including gait training (walking), movement facilitation, normalization of muscle tone, weight bearing, balance and equilibrium challenges, range-of-motion exercises, myofascial release, craniosacral therapy, home programming, massage and play.
The Memorial Health Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah offers a gait analysis laboratory for children who have trouble walking. The GaitRite Electronic Walkway System automatically measures different aspects of a child's gait. These measurements are fed into a computer that quickly provides objective data regarding rhythm, step length, speed and other valuable information.
At the same time, a video camera records the child walking. Trained pediatric physical therapists view the information and the videotape to assess the child's walk and design a specific treatment programs that promote a normal gait pattern that is efficient, pain-free and functional for the child.
Many children respond well to interactions and challenges when they are with other children their own age. Activities that were once difficult or frustrating become enjoyable and easier to accomplish when they’re part of group play. Opportunities to enhance social interaction, communication and mobility frequently develop throughout group interaction.
Therapists at the Memorial Health Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children's Hospital of Savannah use group therapy to address a variety of needs, including speech/language, oral motor, gross motor, fine motor, sensory motor, handwriting and augmentative/alternative communication.
Children are enrolled in groups based on their age and needs. The group may serve as an adjunct to individual treatment or it may be all the child needs to promote success. Groups typically range in size from two to eight children.
Occasionally, children must undergo procedures that require them to remain perfectly still. To help with this, the Memorial Health Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah offers sedation services administered by a team that includes a pediatric intensivist, anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist, pediatric nurses, a pediatric respiratory therapist and a child life specialist. We have organized a child and family friendly way to reduce the pain and stress of sedation procedures. Before any sedation procedure, we meet with the child and parents to answer any questions they may have.
Children should not eat or drink anything for six hours before sedation. A short-lasting, fast-acting sedation is delivered through an IV. When the child is asleep, we are able to complete the necessary medical procedure. When the procedure is over, the child recovers rapidly and can usually resume normal daily activities within an hour.
Contact the pediatric sedation team
Sedation services are available Monday through Friday for radiology procedures, hematology/oncology procedures, Botox injection and other invasive procedures.
To schedule an appointment or speak to a pediatric sedation specialist, call (912) 350-7460.
To schedule a pediatric patient for procedural sedation, call central scheduling at (912) 350-2766.
When calling please be prepared to provide the following information about the patient:
- Demographic information
- Current insurance information
- Written and signed physician order that includes patient name, date of birth, procedure/exam name, diagnosis and any special instructions
- Most recent history and physical from the referring physician's office (required to help us recognize any potential sedation risk factors or other considerations)
The pediatric sedation team will contact your office with the appointment date, check-in time and fasting instructions for the procedure.
If your child is acutely ill, he/she should not be sedated. If your child develops a cough, cold, fever, congestion, vomiting, wheezing or diarrhea two days before his/her scheduled procedure/test, your appointment should be rescheduled.
Eating and drinking guidelines
When patients receive sedation/anesthesia, their bodies and digestive system relax. If there is any food or liquid in the stomach, patients are at risk for vomiting, which could get into the lungs and cause a life-threatening situation. In order to sedate your child safely, it is very important that you follow the rules for fasting provided to you by the pediatric sedation team.
In general, medicines can be taken as scheduled with a small sip of water. However, a nurse will go over the medications with you and answer any questions that you may have one to two days before the child’s scheduled appointment.
What to expect after sedation/anesthesia
You should avoid letting your child do anything that may require coordination or quick response the rest of the day. Please do not let your child return to school or daycare on this day as he/she will need to rest following the procedure. The following activities should be also avoided:
- Walking up or down stairs
- Riding a bike, skateboard, ATV, etc.
- Playing ball
- Driving a car
Pediatric speech therapy
Our speech/language therapy is provided by licensed speech/language pathologists who are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Services include comprehensive assessments and rehabilitative services for disorders in the following areas: articulation, language, fluency, voice, oral-motor, feeding, central auditory processing and respiration. Speech/language disorders are frequently observed in children with the following conditions:
- Hearing impairment
- Neurological impairment
- Down syndrome
- Cerebral palsy
- Cleft palate
- Developmental delay
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Intellectual impairment
- Sensory impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Phonological awareness
The goal of speech/language therapy is to enable the child to communicate functionally in his or her everyday environment. This is achieved through a variety of therapeutic tracts, including:
Providing speech-sound stimulation for the correct production of sounds.
Used to treat stuttering. Using techniques and strategies to encourage smooth, easy speech.
Facilitates the development of receptive/expressive language skills to increase comprehension and verbal expression.
Used to determine and maintain appropriate pitch, nasality, volume and voice quality (i.e. reduce hoarseness).
Oral-motor, feeding, respiration therapy
Teaches breathing skills and adequate structure/function of the oral mechanism for communication, feeding and swallowing.
Occasionally, children use other forms of communication to help promote speech development. This is called augmentative/alternative communication (AAC) and may include using pictures to communicate, using a talking computer or using sign language. Children may also have nutritional problems because of feeding/swallowing issues. When these problems are present, children are often referred to our specialized AAC team or our therapeutic feeding team.
The therapeutic feeding team at the Memorial Health Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah consists of licensed speech/language pathologists and occupational therapists who specialize in the assessment and treatment of feeding, swallowing and oral-motor problems. The team works with primary care physicians, nurses, gastroenterologists, nutritionists and educational providers to determine the most appropriate plan of care for each child. Feeding problems are often related to the following diagnoses:
- Cerebral palsy
- Cleft palate
- Stomach disorders such as gastrointestinal reflux
- Sensory issues
- Feeding aversion
The therapeutic feeding team assesses the child's condition by observing feeding sessions and using oral pharyngeal motility (videofluoroscopy) studies that look at all aspects of swallowing. To treat feeding disorders, the team may:
- Select equipment to enhance the child's feeding abilities
- Assist in the positioning and seating for feeding
- Educate parents about appropriate nutrition for the child
- Help the parent transition the child to more advanced feeding, such as weaning from baby foods to table foods or advancing from a bottle to a cup
- Prepare non-oral (tube) feeders to begin receiving food by mouth
The goal of the therapeutic feeding team is to work with the parents to find the most efficient, safe and age-appropriate means of feeding the child.
Plan your visit
When a child needs medical care, it can be a stressful time for the entire family. At the Memorial Health Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children's Hospital of Savannah, we specialize in meeting the needs of every person involved. We are happy to answer your questions, provide educational resources, and refer you to additional services that you may need. When you have a question about your child's care, please do not hesitate to ask. We are here for all of you.
Support Services and Amenities
Ronald McDonald House®
Savannah’s Ronald McDonald House® serves as a home-away-from-home for families of injured or sick children receiving treatment at the Memorial Health Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital.