Adult, teen changing table now available at Jacksonville hospital

Wolfson Children's Hospital: Changing table gives families dignity, privacy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new feature at Wolfson Children's Hospital makes it easier for parents of teens with medical needs or adults who need special care to get it with adult changing tables in a bathroom on the first floor of the Weaver Building.

Imagine lifting 100 pounds. Then imagine doing so with that amount of weight squirming or resisting your efforts. That's what parents of teens with complex medical conditions who require diaper changes face every day.

"At 17, my son is the size of a small adult," said Christine Horn, whose son, Joseph, was born with Smith Magenis Syndrome, a developmental disorder associated with intellectual disability and delayed speech and language skills. Joseph has also been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and is nonverbal. "Changing him standing up is not an easy task and usually not a great option because it's very difficult to get him completely clean that way. We have changed him lying across the seats in our car, but that's public, and I'd like to give him some privacy."

Horn brought the concern up to the Wolfson Children's Family Advisory Council, of which she is a member. The FAC consists of family members of past and present patients of Wolfson Children's Hospital, facilitated by a member of hospital leadership or a representative who relays the information to hospital leadership, and uses feedback to offer recommendations on policies and practices to support patient- and family-centered care.

"It is impossible to change them without an adult-sized changing table unless you lay them on the floor," she said. "But that's unsanitary, and the kids already have weakened immune systems. Plus, it's difficult to pick them back up to put them back in the wheelchair."

After getting the feedback, hospital personnel took action to get an adult changing table installed in a bathroom.

The changing table is located inside a single-unit bathroom in the hallway that many patients and families travel to go between Wolfson Children's and Nemours Children's Specialty Care, Jacksonville.

It folds down from the wall and is equipped with a remote control to allow users to easily move it up and down to transfer someone on and off.

Another special-needs changing table for adults and teens will be included in the new Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville Entry Building/Wolfson Children's Critical Care Tower, which is set to be open in early 2021.