BrightStart Pediatrics to care for medically fragile children

The third BrightStart Pediatrics, a nursing and therapy center for medically fragile children, is set to open in Winter Garden.

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  • | 4:30 p.m. July 27, 2016
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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WINTER GARDEN When Linda Brown, an occupational therapist, saw the Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care model, it just made sense to her. 

PPEC is a term given by the state for a nursing and therapy center for medically fragile children. It can function as a day care of sorts for children, but it is licensed as a skilled-nursing facility. It is a place where parents can get a much-needed respite from caregiving while being confident their child is in the care of medical professionals. PPECs are staffed by nurses, aides and therapists. 

“When I saw the PPEC design, as a therapist I was drawn to it,” Brown said. “It made sense. I as a therapist would have a session with a child for a half-hour (per) day, maybe three, two times a week. … I often felt like it wasn’t enough. So I when I saw the PPEC concept, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, the therapists work with the nurses; the child’s in your center all day; you get so much more done.’”

After working for a PPEC company for a few years, Brown decided to start her own. The first BrightStart Pediatrics facility opened in 2003 in South Orlando, near Kissimmee. 

And at the end of the July, a Winter Garden location — the company’s third — will celebrate its grand opening. 


The term “medically fragile” describes children who have medical needs that require a nurse’s oversight while they are at the PPEC. Some children just need a nurse to supervise them, while others require the nurse to provide regular treatments. Many children are fed by a gastrostomy tube, are on oxygen or have a tracheotomy.

Each day, BrightStart Pediatrics sends its own bus to pick children up from their homes and take them to the center. An EMT is on the bus in case any child needs assistance. 

When they arrive, the children are assessed so caregivers can know what assistance they will need. BrightStart doesn’t serve as the child’s pediatrician — each child is under the care of his or her own doctor — but BrightStart follows the plan of care the child’s doctor has formulated. 

There are different rooms for each development level. BrightStart primarily serves children from birth to 5 years old but can serve older children when it is appropriate. There are different rooms for newborns through preschoolers. 

They also like to have fun along the way. Depending on the child’s ability, they go on field trips, as well as bring some fun, such as petting zoos and water games, to the kids. 

“Yes, we’re meeting their medical needs first — that’s our first priority, their medical care,” Brown said. “But they’re kids. We have them all day long. And our goal is to have these children ready to go to regular kindergarten by the age of 5.”


At 6,700 square feet, Winter Garden’s campus will be BrightStart Pediatric’s largest center. 

Brown always has chosen locations in areas that are either more rural or lack the access to medical care. As West Orange continues to grow, she sees a need for the community to have access to a PPEC. 

Winter Garden’s proximity to Lake County, as well as the toll roads, also will allow the PPEC to have a farther reach. 

The center will have a three-to-one child-per-caregiver ratio, meaning for every six children, there will be a nurse and an aide on staff and ready to care for the children. 


Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected]



The open house is not open to the general public, but local medical professionals and families interested in finding out more information can attend. 

WHEN: 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 28

WHERE: BrightStart Pediatrics Winter Garden, 1335 Winter Garden-Vineland Road, Suite 120, Winter Garden

PHONE: (407) 545-2773


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