Broward Health North
Special Care Unit

Special Care Unit

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Tips to Lower Toddlers' Choking Risks

As curious young children explore their environment, they put food and other objects in their mouths that can stick in their windpipe (trachea) and make it difficult or impossible for them to breathe. Choking sends thousands of infants and toddlers to emergency rooms each year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and other agencies, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission, have worked for years to warn parents and child caregivers and to improve the safety of toys and products.

Monitor mealtimes

Before age 4, children aren't able to grind their food into small pieces. Protect your child by creating a safe eating environment and avoiding certain foods until your child is age 4.

At meals:

  • Supervise your child. Don't leave your child alone while he or she is eating.

  • Sit your child upright in a high chair.

  • Discourage eating and talking at the same time.

  • Cut your child's food into small pieces until his or her molars come in.

  • Stop your child from running with food in his or her mouth.

Do not allow a child younger than age 4 to have these foods:

  • Hot dogs

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Chunks of peanut butter

  • Chunks of meat or cheese

  • Popcorn, pretzels, potato chips, corn chips, and similar snack foods

  • Hard, gooey, or sticky candy

  • Whole grapes

  • Raisins

  • Raw vegetables, especially hard ones

  • Chewing gum

If hot dogs are the only food you have, remove the tough skin and cut the meat into small pieces.

Keep small objects out of little hands

Although food is the most common cause of choking in small children, other objects are also a threat. Keep small household items and toys with small removable parts out of toddlers' reach. Be sure to remove common offenders, such as uninflated or broken balloons, coins, marbles, tiny balls, pen caps, button-type batteries, and pins. Balloons are the toys most commonly involved in fatal choking accidents. If a child bites on an inflated latex balloon, it can pop, enter the lungs, and choke the child. Broken pieces of a balloon can also be dangerous if a young child picks one up and puts it in his or her mouth.

Choking emergencies

Choking can occur even if you take precautions. If your child has a forceful cough and is crying or vocal, let the child get the food or object out. If your child can't make a sound, have someone call 911 or your local emergency number, while you do the Heimlich maneuver. Learn the version that's right for your child's age. The American Heart Association provides standard procedures for choking victims of all ages. Once the food or object comes out, take your child to the health care provider. A piece of the object may remain in the lung; only a health care provider can tell if your child is OK. 


The Special Care Unit at Broward Health North is dedicated to providing specialized care to serve the acute needs of the catastrophically ill, ventilator dependent or otherwise medically complex patient.

The Unit is appropriate for those patients who no longer require the intensive care setting, but will benefit from an extended acute care hospital stay.

We provide a step-down model which includes:

- Cardiac Monitoring
- Critical Care trained/ACLS Certified Nurses
- Aggressive Pulmonary Rehabilitation
- Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy.
- We also have an excellent Brain/Coma Stimulation program for patients who are appropriate for those services.

Located in a full service hospital setting, our patients benefit from the many services available on site, and the physician specialists on staff at Broward Health North, an Adult Level II Trauma Center and a facility of Broward Health.

Our goal is to help patients reach their maximum potential as quickly as possible. Statistics indicate that when the rehabilitative process is started at inception, overall results are greatly improved. Because our staff are solely dedicated to the patients on our unit, we are able to provide a better ratio of therapist to patient care then other, similar programs.

By combining resources, our Interdisciplinary team offers patients a continuum of personalized acute care with a progressive rehabilitation component.

Services Provided:

  • Access to licensed physicians.
  • Cardiac Monitoring and telemetry services
  • Integrated Ventilator Alarm System
  • Immediate access to emergency medical services
  • Individualized treatment program
  • Interdisciplinary team conferences
  • Flexible visiting hours
  • Pet Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Overnight stays may be arranged
  • Patient and family support groups

Patient Categories:

  • Adult ventilator-dependent patients
  • Cardiopulmonary Disorders
  • Catastrophic Illness
  • Head/Brain Trauma
  • Multiple Trauma
  • Medically complex patients
  • Multi-System Failure
  • Neurological and Central Nervous System Disorders
  • Pre/post organ transplants

We are pleased to provide an on site evaluation of patients for consideration. We accept referrals from attending physicians, consultants, case managers, social workers, insurance companies, nurses and family members.

We accept most insurances, Medicare and Workers Compensation.

We recognize the need for quick and efficient transfers. Please feel free to call us at 954-786-6790 to arrange a tour of the unit and address any questions to our nurse liaisons.

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