Packard and Memorial to split ownership/operation of advanced care facility
For Release: June 07, 2006SALINAS, Calif -- Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS) and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford announced today that they have entered a letter of intent to expand their partnership in the operation of the SVMHS neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The two entities will be come equal partners in the ownership and operation of the new Level III neonatal intensive care unit planned to open soon at Memorial Hospital. The NICU at SVMHS is currently a Level II NICU, and will be providing Level III care in the near future. The Level III designation means that Salinas Valley Memorial will care for the region’s tiniest premature and most critically ill newborns—babies who now have to be transported out of the area. Packard and Memorial Hospital currently work together in the SVMHS Level II nursery through a management agreement between the two entities, but in the new arrangement both Packard and Memorial Hospital will have 50% ownership in the NICU facility. Memorial Hospital’s three neonatologists providing 24/7 care in its NICU are clinical professors on the Stanford University School of Medicine faculty, and live and work in the Salinas area.
Chris Dawes, CEO of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital stated, “Packard looks forward to building upon this important strategic relationship with Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System.”
“It has always been a part of our strategic plan to move to a level III NICU,” said Harry Wardwell, President of the Board of Directors for Salinas Valley Memorial. “It is important that families in our area can receive the care their babies need, right here in their own community, without having to travel out of the area.”
“We look forward to this increased level of partnership with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford,” said Sam Downing, President/CEO of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System. “Our hospital district deserves the highest quality of care, and that’s what we have been able to provide. Moving to a level III NICU, and doing it with a strong partnership with Packard, is the logical next step.”
As part of the increased level of service, Salinas Valley Memorial and Packard are instituting a transport plan that will allow patients from surrounding areas to come to Memorial Hospital for Level III care. A highly specialized ambulance, purchased by the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Foundation, powers the new transport program. This new vehicle is outfitted with the most advanced technological features to safely treat and sustain a critically ill infant while being transferred to the NICU at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. Patients are expected to come to Memorial from all over Monterey County, San Benito and South Santa Clara Counties.
Hiring has already begun for an expanded staff to handle the new Level III NICU. Memorial and Packard will expand the current NICU staff by 35 additional positions, including a fourth neonatologist. A perinatologist (a physician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies) joins the staff in August, and will open a new Perinatal Diagnostic Center for high risk pregnancies.
“We have a strong base from which to grow into a Level III nursery,” said David Kasting, MD, medical director of the SVMHS NICU. “We have a highly skilled neonatal nursing staff, three staff neonatologists, and a strong support staff from ancillary areas such as respiratory and occupational therapy, pharmacy, social services, dietary, and diagnostic imaging.”
The existing partnership between Salinas Valley Memorial and Packard has resulted in a technologically advanced method of collaboration. Neonatologists from Salinas Valley Memorial are able to confer with pediatric cardiologists at Packard through a live, high-speed audio/video link, as technicians are conducting diagnostic tests. The results of echocardiograms and other diagnostic images can be shared and discussed in real time, as the tests are being taken. This partnership allows immediate access to Packard’s specialists without having to transport patients.
Salinas Valley Memorial’s NICU was evaluated by Children’s Medical Services, CCS, which is a branch of the California Department of Health Services. The NICU was found to be performing at or above CCS expectations at all levels and was awarded certification as a Level II Intermediate Care NICU.
Nurseries are classified by the level of care they can offer their patients. Healthy babies are cared for in Level I nurseries, moderately ill babies are cared for in Level II NICUs, and the most critically ill babies are in Level III NICUs. The new Level III nursery at SVMHS will have 11 patient beds initially, with plans to expand to a new 24-bed unit in 3 years. The planned expansion will be necessary to meet the growth of Memorial Hospital’s births, which are expected to reach over 2600 each year in the next five years with more than 400 infants admitted to the NICU annually.
Salinas Valley Memorial has neonatologists immediately available, 24-hours, every day. “Even parents who anticipate a full-term, perfectly healthy baby can have confidence in the fact that the resources are here in the event special care is needed at any stage,” said Dr. Kasting, Memorial’s NICU Director for more than five years.
About Lucile Packard Children's Hospital
Ranked as one of the nation's top 10 pediatric hospitals by US News & World Report, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford is a 264-bed hospital devoted to the care of children and expectant mothers. Providing pediatric and obstetric medical and surgical services and associated with the Stanford School of Medicine, Packard Children's Hospital offers patients locally, regionally and nationally the full range of health-care programs and services from preventive and routine care to the diagnosis and treatment of serious illness and injury. For more information, visit http://www.lpch.org.
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