Saint Mary's To End Inpatient Pediatric Care

October 29, 2008
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Saint Mary's Health Care will stop admitting children and instead send them to Spectrum Health's Helen DeVos Children's Hospital as of Nov. 1, the hospital announced last month.

Saint Mary's will focus on providing outpatient pediatric care through its primary care arm, Advantage Health, and still will offer emergency, trauma, radiology, laboratory and outpatient surgery for children. Obstetrics and the 15-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will remain open as well.

Saint Mary's Vice President for Development and Communications Micki Benz said that typically just two children at a time occupy the eight-bed pediatrics unit.

Saint Mary's is a member of Partners in Children's Health, a coalition of 24 hospitals for which Spectrum Health provides education, training and best practices information, said Tom Hanley, director of marketing and communications for the DeVos Children's Hospital.

"The idea of Saint Mary's essentially closing their pediatrics unit is a trend that's happening nationally with community hospitals, in particular in areas where there is a comprehensive children's hospital," Hanley said. The small number of children admitted to community hospitals makes it difficult to keep specialists on staff, he said. "Fewer physicians are going into pediatrics as a profession."

Benz noted that Saint Mary's sees about 650 children each month in the emergency room; about 5 percent need hospitalization. The hospital plans to open a new emergency room in February in the Hauenstein Center which will include an area for treating children, she said.

—Elizabeth Slowik

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