Penrose-St. Francis Health Services said Tuesday that it will close its only inpatient pediatric unit in Colorado Springs on Sept. 21, leaving Children’s Hospital as the city’s only provider of such services.
Penrose-St. Francis will convert the 12-bed pediatric unit at St. Francis Medical Center for adult use, citing declining demand for pediatric inpatient beds and growing demand for adult inpatient beds in the wake of Children’s Hospital Colorado opening an 111-bed hospital in northern Colorado Springs on May 28. UCHealth Memorial Hospital closed inpatient pediatric units at its Central campus when Children’s opened and neither Penrose Hospital nor Memorial’s North campus operate such units.
“Recent community health needs assessments and the strategic planning process for Penrose-St. Francis Health Services indicate a rapidly increasing demand for adult inpatient beds as a result of a growing population in our region, as well as additional pediatric inpatient bed availability in our market,” the nonprofit said Tuesday in an email statement.
“All other pediatric care will continue at Penrose-St. Francis without interruption, including emergency care, surgeries, imaging and ancillary services.”
Penrose-St. Francis CEO Dr. Brian Erling said in an email that the Springs-based organization began evaluating its pediatric strategy as part of a strategic planning effort last summer. He said the inpatient unit had an average daily patient count of less than four with demand expected to decrease.
Children treated at the St. Francis Emergency Department who require a hospital stay of less than 24 hours will be treated in the department’s observation unit, while those requiring inpatient stays will be sent to Children’s in the Springs or Aurora for the most advanced cases, Penrose-St. Francis spokeswoman Andrea Sinclair said Tuesday.
St. Francis will not admit patients to its inpatient pediatric unit after Sept. 18, she said.
“Some of pediatric patients coming to St. Francis require a higher level of care and we transfer them to Children’s in the Denver area. That has always been the best practice,” Sinclair said.
“We will send patients to Children’s based on the level of care that they require. The decision on where to place the patient is always based on the condition of the patient and how best to treat them.”
The conversion of the pediatric unit for adult care will not result in layoffs as employees either moved to other jobs at Penrose-St. Francis or its parent organization, Centura Health, or found other jobs, Sinclair said.
Children’s opened its hospital on the Memorial North campus with 30 inpatient pediatric beds with room for 12 more in unfinished space.
The hospital also has five extended-stay beds for pediatric patients after surgery as well as a 50-bed neonatal intensive care unit, a 16-bed pediatric intensive care unit, three rooms for sleep studies, eight operating rooms (three unfinished) and a variety of exam and treatment rooms in its Emergency Department and infusion areas.
Memorial Central is converting its former 33-bed inpatient pediatric unit into 25 additional beds for adult medical-surgical patients after Children’s opened. Children’s had operated Memorial’s pediatric units and continues to operate a 64-bed neonatal intensive unit at Memorial Central.