By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
TEMPLE - The $50 million Scott & White Children's Hospital project got bigger Tuesday, when hospital officials announced a 20-year partnership with Texas Children's Hospital.
Senior staff and administrators from both hospitals gathered in the former King's Daughters Hospital - now undergoing renovation and slated to reopen as the Scott & White Children's Hospital in October - to publicly sign a ceremonial agreement of understanding.
"This collaboration and partnership will enhance the already-excellent (pediatric) health care we have here in Central Texas," Scott & White Healthcare President and CEO Dr. Robert W. Pryor said. "It gives us access to the tremendous resources of Texas Children's Hospital and Scott & White."
The two hospitals have been coordinating for about a year, he said, adding that the partnership is wholly driven by providing optimal care to Central Texas children.
Texas Children's Hospital is happy to assist with that goal, said Mark Wallace, its president and CEO.
Texas Children's Hospital is a full-care pediatric hospital located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
The hospital is one of the world's top pediatric facilities, Pryor said. U.S. News and World Report ranked it No. 4 in the country this year for pediatric care.
The Scott & 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.
Hospital officials estimate that 3,000 children will be admitted each year, and some 250,000 children will visit the hospital clinic.
The children's hospital complex will employ about 700 people, said CEO Dr. John Boyd III.
Dr. Mark Kline, physician-in-chief of Texas Children's Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, said his hospital has the world's highest concentration of pediatric subspecialists. "There's no area of pediatric medicine where we don't have an expert," he said.
He described the distance between Houston and Scott & White Children's Hospital as "an exceedingly long hallway" through which information and expertise will travel "seamlessly."
About 1 percent of Scott & White patients also will travel to Houston for complex procedures such as organ transplants and open-heart surgeries, said Dr. Madhava R. Beeram, interim chairman of pediatrics at Scott & White.
The partnership will expand Scott & White's capabilities as a training and educational center, as well, he said, and patients seeking care at Metroplex Hospital in Killeen will also benefit from the partnership through its standing relationship with Scott & White.
Scott & White neonatal intensive care unit nurse manager Tammi Reynolds said patients, parents and hospital staff will reap tangible benefits from the deal.
"This partnership allows us to expand our services and provide Central Texas children speciality areas we don't currently have," she said.
Follow-up care for children who must be transferred to other hospitals also will improve, she said. When children return to Central Texas after seeking treatment in Houston, doctors at both hospitals can communicate directly about future care.
Scott & White staff can't wait for the children's hospital to open, she said.
Contact Colleen Flaherty at email@example.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.