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Meet Our Medical Director

WakeMed Children’s is pleased to welcome Damilola Joseph, MD, as the new medical director for the WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department. Dr. Joseph is a board-certified pediatric emergency medicine physician who most recently served as the assistant medical director for the WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department. A graduate of Cornell Medical School in New York City, NY, she completed her pediatric residency at Duke University in Durham, NC. Dr. Joseph went on to complete her pediatric emergency medicine fellowship through University of North Carolina’s (UNC) program, which is a collaboration between UNC-Chapel Hill, Wake Emergency Physicians, PA and WakeMed.

We sat down with Dr. Joseph to get to know her and learn about her vision for WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department.

“It’s a true honor to be selected as the medical director for WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve in this new capacity moving forward. At my core is the desire to provide evidence-based, high quality and compassionate care to our patients at WakeMed Children’s,” shares Dr. Joseph.

How long have you been at WakeMed?

I started in 2008 as the very first pediatric emergency medicine fellow at WakeMed. It has been a blessing to be part of a pediatric fellowship program where physicians have trained leaders in our field. Today, it has grown to be a competitive program in our region.

After I completed my fellowship in 2011, I joined WakeMed as an attending with Wake Emergency Physicians, PA in 2012.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role as the medical director?

The late Dr. Marilyn Hicks predates my time at WakeMed. She was instrumental in establishing the WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department. Her vision was to provide high quality care to pediatric patients in Wake County and surrounding counties in a dedicated child-friendly space. Over the years, a core group of board-certified pediatric emergency medicine providers have been instrumental in growing that vision. They have been great mentors to me. I hope to carry on that legacy — practicing evidence-based, high-quality care, while training fellows and residents to do so as well — the Wake Way — humbly and compassionately.

What can parents expect when they bring their children to WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department?

The level of compassion at WakeMed is unmatched anywhere else I have treated patients. I’m very proud that the first person patients see is typically the triage nurse or registration staff. These team members truly empathize with families using the gentlest language.

They remain consistent during the busiest and most chaotic times. I commend their hard work.

For us, it is critical to keep in mind that for patients and parents, the emergency department can be scary. Parents’ central concern is their child’s injury or illness. As providers, we try our best to make the interaction less daunting, empathizing with families and understanding their concerns.

Gratitude for the opportunity to serve is at the center of all we do. It’s tough work, but we’re blessed to be on the provider side and at the forefront of innovative medicine.

Tell us more about your team and who families can expect to see when they visit WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department?

Every member of our team in the emergency department is essential for providing quality care to our patients!

Behind the scenes and often under-recognized is our environmental services. They work tirelessly in an effort to maintain cleanliness. They do so with the friendliest smiles!

I also cannot forget our registration staff. They ensure every patient is registered, which is especially helpful in reviewing patient past electronic medical records — a vital component of patient care!

Next, our amazing child life specialists are instrumental in helping parents and patients with understanding coping measures. They do a fantastic job patiently explaining tests and procedures to children who are often afraid when they arrive. They are truly valued members of our team!

Our nursing assistants are also crucial members of our team, assisting with procedures, obtaining vital signs, and providing supplies for our nurses and providers.

Then we have our rock star nurses. They each specialize in pediatrics and love children. Families come to us sometimes traumatized after an experience at another hospital. Our nurses are highly skilled and have a calm demeanor even in the most challenging situations.

Our medical students, residents and fellows are developing their bedside manner, medical decision making, procedural skills, critical care management and clinical acumen. Our attendings help to train the next generation of emergency medicine doctors.

At the core are our phenomenal emergency department are our physicians and advanced practice providers. Together, we are constantly going through evidence-based pathways for the best and most efficient treatment options for patients. We look at core measures and outcomes, exercising quality improvement where needed. We involve families in joint medical decision-making and family-centered care. We are often seen as “captains of the ship.” The department looks to us to set the tone during high volume and high acuity shifts.

How has the medical community at WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department evolved?

I’ve been here for 16 years. One of the biggest evolutions is our service to exponentially more patients. The population in Wake and surrounding counties increases daily which provides more opportunity for patient contact. The acuity and level of care required for our patients has also increased.

Families are making WakeMed their first stop for children with highly complex medical conditions. Hence, our scope of medicine has widened. We work together with our pediatric hospital, intensive care, and specialized pediatric surgery teams to treat as many complex patients as we can here at WakeMed.

WakeMed Children’s continues to grow and expand specialty services, which expands the patient population we can care for right here.

What technological innovations are available in WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department?

We benefit from innovations that have positively impacted patient care hospital-wide.

Transitioning our emergency medicine response system at WakeMed to EPIC, an

electronic medical records system,

has streamlined patient care. Having easy access to past hospitalizations and clinic visits even from outside facilities helps make care more efficient.

Rapid Connect is another great innovation brought by one of our pediatric surgeons. With Rapid Connect, we can quickly communicate with providers and multi-disciplinary team members.

Additionally, the simulation center at WakeMed offers cutting edge simulations for various clinical scenarios, helping to teach nurses, doctors and medical students.

How do you view your role beyond the walls of the hospital?

While I am a doctor, I’m also a mom and a wife. I aim to be a God-fearing steward of the Word of God as well. A lot of what I do outside the walls of the hospital is introducing the field of medicine to underrepresented communities.

While I am a doctor, I’m also a mom and a wife. I aim to be a God-fearing steward of the Word of God as well. A lot of what I do outside the walls of the hospital is introducing the field of medicine to underrepresented communities.

When Black or African American families see me in the emergency department, many times they say, ‘Oh my gosh; you’re the doctor. That’s amazing.’ Mom or Grandma will tell their child or grandchild to see me as an example of what they can do in the future. The patient experience is greatly enhanced when families feel they can see themselves in their provider.

That in mind, my daughter and I established a group called Empower Our Teens. This is a group for girls of Afro-Carribean descent. We coordinate motivational talks, fitness sessions. academic support, financial counseling and a network of mentors.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to cook Nigerian dishes. It’s one way we bond as a family and celebrate our Nigerian heritage. We also exercise as much as we can. Travel is one of the major ways we decompress and spend time bonding. I also love spending time with my husband. We reflect on our days and what we hope to accomplish. I’m furthermore the first born of seven siblings. I’m big sis and likely seen as the counselor, organizer, mediator and enforcer.

About WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department

Specifically designed to meet the emergency care needs of children, the Children’s Emergency Department was the first freestanding facility of its kind in North Carolina and the only dedicated children’s emergency location in Wake County, caring for thousands of pediatric patients every year.

A non-threatening, comfortable environment with a cheerful atmosphere, bright murals, children’s wall-art and child-sized furnishings. All this and a staff of doctors, nurses and support staff who know how to treat kids like kids, not little adults.