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Sept. 9, 2010 Volume 32, No. 3

Wait is over for consolidation of Children’s Hospital

Patient transport is scheduled for next week

University of Missouri Health Care will celebrate the opening of the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital with two events this week. Then comes the hard part: moving patients from University Hospital and getting them comfortable in the new facility, the former Columbia Regional Hospital at 404 Keene St.

A ribbon cutting and ceremony for MU Health Care faculty and staff is scheduled today, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Patients, families and the public are invited to a grand opening celebration Sunday, September 12, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Refreshments, family-friendly activities and tours of the new hospital are planned.

The $12 million project, which began in June 2009, consolidates children’s services that have been housed on two floors of University Hospital and at about a dozen other scattered locations. For the first time, pediatric and adolescent inpatient units, a 13-bed pediatric intensive care unit and a pediatric cardiology clinic will be under one roof. The Children’s Blood Disorders and Cancer Unit will also make the move from University Hospital, joining the newborn intensive care unit, which moved to Columbia Regional, along with women’s services, in 2003.

The new facility becomes one of only 50 free-standing children’s hospitals in the country. Features include private rooms for 27 children and 16 adolescents, a jungle-themed playroom and a game room. Tim Fete, medical director of Children’s Hospital and chair of MU’s Department of Child Health, said the move to Columbia Regional is not only a consolidation of existing units. It also represents a “dramatic growth” in services for children and their families.

“In the six months between April 1 and October 1, we will have added 14 new faculty just to the Department of Child Health,” Fete said. “We’ve added a number of pediatric specialists that will increase the availability and access to care in mid-Missouri and rural Missouri in a number of pediatric subspecialties.”

Fete said specially trained transport teams are scheduled to begin moving patients to the new hospital Tuesday, Sept. 14. Two pediatric teams will transport critically ill newborns and children, while two Flight for Life crews will move the children with less serious conditions. The teams have been planning the move for 20 months, Fete said, and have been meeting weekly in the run-up to the move to establish the “absolute paths” they will follow en route to the new hospital and to set up an electronic tracking system to monitor the patients’ conditions.

“This time of year is a good time for making the move in that there’s a relative nadir in the number of kids admitted to the hospital in the fall,” Fete said. “We haven’t hit our traditional sick season, so the time is right. We should be a relatively low census of patients to be moved.”

The amount of excitement that surrounds the long-awaited opening of the new hospital is “great and well deserved,” Fete said. The location — at I-70 and Highway 63 — is “fantastic,” and will make it easier for families who live in rural communities to get the best care for their children.

“Columbia is a warm, welcoming community that people are comfortable coming to, as opposed to some potential fears people have about going to St. Louis and Kansas City for their care,” he said.