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Columbia Missourian

Informational breakfast to give community look at consolidation of Children's Hospital

By Nick Omland
June 16, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — An informational breakfast on Thursday will detail MU Health Care’s plans to consolidate Children’s Hospital and pediatric services at Columbia Regional Hospital.

The 7:15 a.m. breakfast at the hospital's conference center, 404 Keene St., is open to the public and offers community members a chance to learn about the consolidation.

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Children’s Hospital is a “virtual hospital” since it doesn’t have a building of its own but is instead housed on two floors within University Hospital. Other pediatric specialty services are spread among the hospitals and clinics throughout MU Health Care.

MU Health Care’s plan is to move almost all of these pediatric services to Columbia Regional Hospital, said Timothy Fete, medical director of Children’s Hospital. The hospital will be renamed in the future.

The consolidation is split into three phases and will cost an estimated $25 million, Fete said. The first phase is moving all pediatric inpatient services and a few specialty pediatric services to Columbia Regional Hospital. This phase is slated to be finished around July 2010 and will cost MU Health Care about $12 million.

The second phase calls for moving the specialty outpatient pediatric clinics, and the third phase is the relocation of faculty offices, Fete said. Together, these phases will cost an estimated $12 million to $13 million.

MU Health Care is still looking for a donor to help fund these changes.

Fete said a large reason for the move is the increased visibility Children’s Hospital will receive. Once MU Health Care’s consolidation is complete, patients will have one location for their pediatric needs.

“Sometimes it seems like we are under-recognized," Fete said. "There are lots of services that we can be providing to children and families of mid-Missouri, but they don’t realize we’re here, so they end up going to St. Louis or Kansas City.”

Presentations at Thursday's breakfast will be given by Fete; Thomas Leow, division chairman of pediatric hematology and oncology; and Laura Gajda, executive director for advancement at MU Health Care.

“The breakfast should help people understand the scope of the project," Gajda said. "A lot of people aren’t even aware we have a children’s hospital. We want people to be aware that we have one and that we are improving the space and making it a larger facility.”

Construction to accommodate the changes began at Columbia Regional Hospital two weeks ago.