Akron Children’s Hospital is taking over the inpatient pediatric unit at Aultman Hospital in Canton.
The tentative deal announced Thursday is the latest example of Children’s ongoing efforts to offer services for young patients inside hospitals throughout eastern Ohio.
Under the multiyear deal, Children’s will lease the space from Aultman to own and operate the pediatric unit.
Aultman has an average of four hospitalized children each day in the 30-bed unit, said Anne Gunther, the hospital’s chief nursing officer. The number has decreased substantially in the past three years as more patients receive care in outpatient settings.
By forming a partnership with Children’s, Aultman can make sure inpatient pediatric services remain available for patients, Gunther said.
“Some hospitals have chosen to close their inpatient pediatric units, and we don’t think that’s the right approach,” she said. “This agreement is going to allow us to continue our high-quality inpatient pediatric care on a high-quality unit that will really meet the needs of our patients.”
Aultman’s rival Mercy Medical Center in Canton has four of its inpatient beds dedicated to pediatrics, spokeswoman Cindy Hickey said. Pediatric services also are provided in the emergency department, outpatient and urgent-care centers and at the Mercy Surgery Center.
“More serious illnesses and injuries are best cared for at a children’s hospital, and we are fortunate to have the nationally recognized Akron Children’s Hospital a short distance away, as well as University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland,” she said.
Aultman continues to own and operate its pediatric unit until the deal with Children’s is finalized, Gunther said. After that time, the 15 nurses assigned to the unit will be able to switch to another job at Aultman or apply to continue to work as employees of Children’s on the pediatric floor.
Children’s has been leasing space within Aultman to provide outpatient appointments with pediatric specialists for the past five years.
The pediatric hospital plans to operate as many as 15 inpatient beds at Aultman, with an anticipated average of six to eight patients there daily, Akron Children’s Executive Vice President Shawn Lyden said. The ownership change likely will take place in the fourth quarter of this year.
Children’s already treats many patients from Stark and surrounding counties, Lyden said. Those with more serious illnesses or injuries will continue to be referred to the main campus for care.
“For certain kinds of patients who need to be hospitalized, this will allow them to stay closer to home,” he said.
In recent years, Children’s has been aggressively expanding its regional footprint.
In addition to its pediatric hospital in the Youngstown area, Children’s operates three other satellite inpatient pediatric units at East Liverpool City Hospital, MedCentral Health System in Mansfield and Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna.
Children’s also runs neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) inside Akron General Medical Center, Summa Akron City Hospital and St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Youngstown.
Aultman’s NICU is not part of the deal and will continue to be owned and operated by the Canton hospital.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902.