Chicago’s public hospitals collaborate on pediatrics

The link comes as hospitals compete for a dwindling number of complex pediatric cases. Such arrangements have become commonplace as more children are treated on an outpatient basis.

For example, Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Rush University System for Health entered into a clinical partnership in February. And Advocate Children’s Hospital, the pediatric division of NorthShore University HealthSystem, and the University of Chicago Medicine’s Comer Children’s Hospital have been collaborating on pediatric care for several years.

Thirteen pediatric specialties, such as hematology, oncology and gastroenterology, are included in the partnership between Cook County Health and UI Health, two hospitals that currently serve more than 100,000 children. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

“The purpose of the Partnership for Pediatric Care is to meet our patients where they are,” said Dr. Mope Akintorin, the pediatric chairman of Cook County Health, in the statement. “By increasing the reach of our pediatric specialists on our hospital campuses and our community health centers, we are reducing barriers to entry so that our pediatric patients and their families can receive the care they deserve.”

The Stroger Hospital at Cook County Health is one of several local hospitals that have suspended or discontinued inpatient pediatric care in recent years due to low demand. Between July 2019 and June 2020, Stroger said the 14-bed general pediatric ward had an average of 1.8 patients per day.

“As public institutions, we have a shared mission to provide the highest quality patients and communities across the state,” said Dr. Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs at UIC, in the statement. “Partnerships, like this one with Cook County Health, are natural strategies for leveraging the community outreach and expertise we all offer to help those entrusted to our care.”

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