Two competing hospital systems in Toledo, Ohio, have agreed to jointly pursue building a new children's hospital in the city.
If their plans come to fruition, the new children's facility will greatly heat up the competition over pediatric care in Toledo as has happened in Miami (See related story, p. 68).
The Toledo partners are Medical College of Ohio, which operates 242-bed Medical College Hospitals, and Mercy Health Partners, a four-hospital network that includes two facilities in Toledo.
The pair last week agreed to create a foundation to establish a regional children's hospital in Toledo.
The first goal of the Children's Community Foundation of Northwest Ohio is to evaluate the feasibility of locating a new children's hospital in existing space at Medical College Hospitals.
The providers said it was too early to say how much the project would cost or how it would be funded. A plan could be conceived by fall.
Some expressed concern about the idea of opening a second children's hospital in Toledo.
Toledo-based ProMedica Health System operates 128-bed Children's Medical Center of Northwest Ohio, which occupies two floors of the system's Toledo Hospital.
"We are concerned that the patient population may be fragmented," said Marsha Andrasik, president of the Association of Ohio Children's Hospitals. "There are six regions designated as perinatal regions by the Ohio Department of Health. We have one children's hospital located in each region, and we feel comfortable with that."
The new hospital would bring specialized services such as liver transplants and complicated cardiac procedures to Northwest Ohio, said Jim Winkler, a spokesman for Medical College of Ohio.
Another stated aim is to enhance education and training of pediatric healthcare professionals.
But ProMedica spokesman Tim Langhorst said only 1% of local pediatric inpatients travel outside Northwest Ohio for care. ProMedica has inpatient market share in Northwest Ohio of about 60%, Langhorst said.
ProMedica would be willing to coordinate services with the other providers, he said.
"It makes more sense to enhance an already existing children's hospital than to build a separate, redundant facility," Langhorst said.
For advanced care, some Northwest Ohio children go to University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, about an hour's drive away.
Ken Trester, University of Michigan Medical Center's director of planning and marketing, said he didn't know enough about the plans of Mercy Health Partners and Medical College of Ohio to comment.
"Toledo is an important market for us, and we've cooperated with the providers down there in a number of services," he said.
He said University of Michigan surgeons operate at St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, which is part of Mercy Health Partners, and the university is discussing providing services with ProMedica.