By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
TEMPLE - Slated to reopen in October as the central node of the $85 million Scott &amp;amp;amp; White Children's Hospital complex, the former King's Daughters Hospital is far from the one-room medical facility it once was.
Scott &amp;amp;amp; White Healthcare President and CEO Dr. Robert W. Pryor - who was born at King's Daughters - reconfirmed that last week when he announced a new, 20-year partnership between the Scott &amp;amp;amp; White Children's Hospital and Texas Children's Hospital.
"This is a very exciting day for Scott &amp;amp;amp; White and the children of Central Texas," he said at a news conference Tuesday at the future Scott &amp;amp;amp; White Children's Hospital in Temple. "This is all about the children and the families, and that's how we started our discussions with Texas Children's Hospital."
Texas Children's Hospital is a full-care pediatric hospital located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. It has the world's highest concentration of pediatric subspecialists, according to information from the hospital. U.S. News and World Report ranked it No. 4 in the country this year for pediatric care.
The Scott &amp;amp;amp; White Children's Hospital will be the only free-standing children's hospital between Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, encompassing a service area of more than 29,000 square miles. It will treat an estimated 2,600 children in its first year, and 250,000 more through its clinic system.
The hospital will have medical and surgical services, 48 private inpatient rooms, 16 private intensive care rooms, renovated surgical suites, a 12-bed emergency department, broad-based laboratory services, a child-life program and a pediatric residency training program.
In addition to regular collaboration between hospital staff members, 1 percent of Scott &amp;amp;amp; White patients will be transferred to Houston for complex treatments and procedures, such as transplants, interim head of pediatrics Dr. Reddy Beeram said.
They'll return to Temple as quickly as possible and doctors at both hospitals will coordinate follow-up care using common medical records, he said.
The distance between the hospitals won't be 150 miles as much as a 150-mile hallway, Scott &amp;amp;amp; White Children's Hospital CEO John Boyd III said in and interview last week.
"These are our colleagues," he said, referring to Texas Children's Hospital staff. "When you know each other, communication goes a lot smoother. That was really our goal. We're very excited about collaboration."
Texas Children's Hospital President and CEO Mark Wallace said the partnership meant Texas Children's Hospital and all its resources were right in Central Texas' backyard.
The benefits of the relationship also will be felt in Killeen, due to Scott &amp;amp;amp; White's partnership with Metroplex Hospital. Scott &amp;amp;amp; White specialists are already treating children at Metroplex's recently opened Hemingway Building, Beeram said, and now Killeen's kids have access to Texas Children's Hospital's resources.
Metroplex COO Jeffrey Villanueva said Friday that his staff was excited about the news.
"From our perspective, it's a great thing," he said. "It'll bring world-class pediatric care and it will give the community the ability to be treated by the best clinicians and staff."
In addition to providing a continuum of patient care, Beeram said, the development comes with other benefits.
Eight residents already train at Scott &amp;amp;amp; White each year, he said, and an additional pediatric residency program for up to eight more doctors from the Texas A&amp;amp;amp;M University System and Baylor College of Medicine could emerge as a result of the partnership.
Such programs benefit hospitals' surrounding communities, Beeram said, because doctors often stay and practice where they train.
The Scott &amp;amp;amp; White announcement also means economic benefits for Central Texas.
Upon completion, Scott &amp;amp;amp; White Children's Hospital will employ about 700 people, including physicians and support staff, at an average salary of more than $76,000.
That's not counting the money being pumped into the economy during construction.
Scott &amp;amp;amp; White is hardly the only area health care facility expanding.
In the last four years alone, Villanueva said, Metroplex has reinvested $35 million into its facilities, including a new neonatal intensive care unit, women's center, emergency department and catheterization lab.
"We want to continue to grow and want to meet the demands of the community and what their health-care needs are," he said. "We want to be the hospital of choice for the community."
Construction on the new, nearly $1 billion Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center is under way at Fort Hood, as is work on Seton Medical Center-Harker Heights.
Within a year of opening in late 2012, the hospital is expected to employ 300 people. According to information from Seton, the hospital's total economic impact on the region by 2022 will be $22.8 million, with more than 1,960 jobs created.
The VA Hospital in Temple also continues to serve the area's many military veterans.
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.