Emergency Department

No one plans an emergency. But when an accident, injury or serious illness strikes, you want the best emergency care possible. We share that goal at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department.

The facility is staffed seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Here, you’ll find a health care team that includes board-certified pediatric and emergency medicine specialists, and dedicated areas for pediatric trauma and resuscitative care. The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics' Emergency Department is the only certified Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in the state. This designation means the Emergency Department meets the highest standards set by the American College of Surgeons for the treatment of trauma in children.

The Emergency Department completed a major renovation and expansion project in 2008, which included enhanced patient care and reception areas for children and their families. The project nearly tripled the size and scope of the Emergency Department. Our enhanced facility houses the latest equipment and technology in a patient-friendly environment.

Your child is never far away from UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital’s more than 200 pediatric specialists in dozens of medical fields who can assess and treat nearly any medical problem.

Commitment to Service and Comfort

Along with expert care, our health care team is committed to service and to your comfort.

This includes:

  • Embracing the philosophy of family-centered care. We invite you to be a full partner on your child’s health care team, involved in all decisions regarding your child’s care.
  • Evaluating and treating your child or teen as quickly as possible.
  • Using pediatric equipment especially sized for your child.
  • Anticipating that your child might experience pain differently from an adult.
  • Shielding your child from other serious trauma cases in the ED through the use of private rooms with doors.
  • Providing exam rooms with space for family members—complete with televisions.
  • Availability of mobile entertainment centers with DVD and video game players, colors and coloring books, and other items to help occupy children during your stay—including selecting a book from our book cart that your child can take home with them after their visit!

Level I Pediatric Trauma Center

University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is the first and only verified Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in Iowa. This means UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital meets the highest standards set by the American College of Surgeons for trauma care in children. Our pediatric surgical and medical specialists collaborate to treat minor and serious physical and psychological trauma. We have specialized equipment for children of all ages and sizes, and our staff partakes in ongoing pediatric trauma education to ensure that families receive the highest level of pediatric care available.

Trauma is the leading cause of death and disability in children and adolescents, and preventing it is the best way to impact our children's health and well-being. The pediatric trauma team also provides education on injury prevention and treatment for families and UI Health Care faculty and staff.

Emergency Transport

Superior emergency care means providing the proper treatment when children need it most. The sooner a child reaches a specialist, the better the outcome.

UI Hospitals and Clinics addressed this by establishing AirCare, the first medical helicopter service in Iowa. Today, a specially trained neonatal/pediatric team with Children’s Hospital of Iowa stabilizes, manages, and transports more than 400 children each year by AirCare helicopter or our pediatric Mobile Critical Care Unit ambulance.

When is it an emergency?

It’s not always easy to know if your child needs to go to the emergency room. Common illnesses and minor injuries usually can be treated at the doctor’s office or a walk-in health care clinic such as UI QuickCare. But a serious illness or injury may require the care of emergency medicine specialists. Here are some situations for which you should seek emergency care immediately:

  • Infants 3 months and younger with a fever of 100.5 or higher
  • Any burn larger than the child’s palm
  • Severe abdominal pain, especially if abdomen is swollen or tender
  • Very stiff neck with fever
  • Seizures
  • Poisoning (Hotline 800-222-1222)
  • Major injury, including broken bones
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Allergic reactions that include breathing problems
  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop within 10 minutes
  • Sudden, severe pain
  • Serious dehydration with decreased urine output
  • Head injury

Health Information

Health Information

Patient Stories

  • Parent Blog: Jessica Flanscha

    "I will pick [University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital] every time we need specialized care." My daughter Katelyn broke her arm on Nov. 10, and our local doctor referred us to University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. This was the first time any of my kids have ever needed hospital services or had surgery, and I have to say the experience was amazing, from start to finish.Read more
  • Carley Neustel

    Carley Neustel portrait Carley was rushed by helicopter to UI Stead Family Children's Hospital in September 2015 after a farm accident nearly severed both of her legs below the knees. She had also sustained a broken arm and a large cut on her scalp.Read more
  • Aaron Miller

    Aaron Miller portrait Aaron came to UI Stead Family Children's Hospital emergency department after a routine physical with his local doctor showed he had lost 15 pounds since the previous year and his blood sugar was abnormally high. Aaron was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.Read more
  • Rylan Mohr

    Rylan Mohr portrait Rylan was born with an extremely rare skin disease called epidermolysis bullosa, a condition that causes his skin to be extremely fragile and to blister and come off with the slightest friction. His condition was detected at birth, and he was transferred to UI Stead Family Children's Hospital when he was just 3 days old. Read more
  • Maree Scholl

    Maree Scholl portrait Maree was playing at a neighborhood park with her friends and cousins in June 2013 when a 17-foot wooden pole came loose from the playground equipment and hit her on the head. Her skull was fractured in four places and was flown by helicopter to UI Stead Family Children's Hospital. Doctors weren’t sure if Maree would survive, and if she did, there were concerns about brain injury, facial movement, and her ability to walk and talk.Read more

Locations and Contact

  • Iowa City, Iowa

    Emergency Department

    Carver Pavilion
    Emergency Department Entrance
    In House Directions: Elevator E, Level 1
    UI Hospitals and Clinics
    200 Hawkins Drive
    Iowa City, IA 52242
    • 24 hours per day
    • Phone: 319-356-2233
    • Emergency: 911

Care Team