Ensuring that local children have access to high-quality medical care is an important goal for many communities. However, this sometimes means turning to non-traditional sources, such as pediatric urgent care clinics, or even bringing in outside specialists and top doctors to fill gaps in the system. This was the situation that a Tucson hospital faced recently: beginning June 3, it has been announced that Phoenix Children’s Hospital will be providing pediatric services in Tucson Medical Center’s children’s wing.
Tucson Medical Center is an important presence in the lives of many children in the surrounding region. For example, its pediatric emergency care department reports more than 28,000 patient visits a year. Likewise, its pediatric wing, called TMC for Children, has 44 private medical/surgical patient rooms and 12 private pediatric intensive care rooms, and admits 700 children annually. Because of this level of demand, the hospital needs additional support to provide intensive care and hospitalist services, defined as a general physician who takes care of hospitalized patients in the place of the patients’ primary care physicians.
As the winner of TMC’s Request for Proposals,Phoenix Children’s Hospital will be hiring several pediatric specialists to staff TCM’s pediatric wing, including seven hospitalists, intensive care doctors and a medical director. The contract is PCH’s first in Southern Arizona, and the organization reports that the change is a natural one: representatives say that a number of their patients in Phoenix are originally from Tucson but are first to travel for pediatric care.
In other parts of the state, PCH’s has focused on creating pediatric urgent care centers and other walk in health clinics to support an area’s access to primary medical care. However, PCH representatives say their approach in Tucson will be slightly different: their main priority is reportedly to cover TMC’s inpatient and complement their existing specialists. This approach makes sense, as Tucson has drawn a number of health systems in recent years. Banner Health, for example, acquired University of Arizona Health Network earlier this year, while Dignity Health and Tenet Healthcare Corporation are creating a joint venture to take over Carondelet Health Network of Tucson, Southern Arizona’s largest hospital system.