Dignity Health’s Mercy Gilbert Medical Center has reached with Phoenix Children’s Hospital to house a pediatric unit that is expected to benefit East Valley residents and cope with an influx of pregnancies in the area.
The agreement, which was announced earlier this month, will lead to the addition of a 22-bed pediatric unit run by Phoenix Children’s Hospital medical staff on a 24/7 basis. Remodeling for the new unit begins next month to meet the anticipated opening date of Oct. 1.
Dr. Ryan Bode, Phoenix Children’s Hospital co-medical director, said the Mercy Gilbert location will serve kids with lower-level diseases like dehydration, urinary tract infections and other minor medical complications.
“This is intended for more short-stay in-patient (treatment),” he said.
Treatment for more serious cases, for example cancer treatment, will take place at the main Phoenix Children’s Hospital campus in Phoenix, although Bode said patients can receive care from the downtown campus through a telemedicine program.
In a sense, the addition of the Phoenix Children’s Hospital unit at Mercy Gilbert is a resurrection of the former pediatric unit Mercy Gilbert had until it closed approximately two-and-a-half years ago. Bode said having the pre-existing facility is a benefit of the agreement because it means the site only needs a remodel and doesn’t require full construction.
Mercy Gilbert President and CEO Tim Bricker said the medical center has and continues to treat children, but he said it lacks the specialization the revamped unit will provide once it opens. The specialization is in part cosmetic — part of the process includes painting the walls and adding amenities to make it more like the main campus and more comfortable for kids — and also via the set of child-specialists
“(It) brings to the area a set of pediatric specialists we hadn’t had before,” he said.
That also brings pediatric treatment closer to residents of the area who won’t have to travel to downtown Phoenix to receive Phoenix Children’s care. The benefit extends beyond Gilbert and into surrounding East Valley communities and even those that are a bit farther out.
And the region only continues to grow; Gilbert alone is one of the fastest-growing communities in the country and just surpassed Scottsdale to become the sixth-largest municipality in the state.
Attribution to the growth is tied to the number of people moving to the Gilbert area, but there’s an additional reason for the population boom: a jump in the birth rate. Demographics available on the town’s website show the median age of the town’s residents is 31.5 years old — an age when many people are either beginning or growing their families. Mercy Gilbert has seen the effects of that directly, with Bricker saying the medical center’s undergone a 20 percent increase in births in recent years.
“There’s a significant community need, and it’s only growing faster,” he said.
Bode said this is the first satellite facility the hospital has opened with Dignity since the two groups came together in 2011, and he said there could be other Phoenix Children’s campuses built at Dignity sites.
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