New Children's Hospital, a struggling 76-bed institution in Baltimore, has agreed to hitch its future to North Arundel Health System. And if all goes well, the parent might even provide some young patients for the hospital.
That would be new and different for New Children's, which despite its name has not been a pediatric-oriented facility for decades.
Founded in 1909 as a treatment center for chronic childhood diseases such as polio, the center's mission became unnecessary with the success of vaccines in the 1960s, said spokeswoman Agnes Nicholas. Children's evolved into an orthopedic, rehabilitation and surgical hospital largely for adults, capped by the 1990 opening of the Bennett Institute for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.
The "New" was added several years ago to reflect the evolution, but tradition kept the rest of the name intact, Nicholas said, adding that it still causes some confusion.
The facility's financial condition, however, is very clear. It posted an operating loss of $3.3 million on revenues of $8.4 million in fiscal 1997 ended June 30, according to Maryland's hospital cost review commission. The occupancy rate last year was 10.7%, or about eight inpatients on a given day. The census has improved this year to about 15 patients, Nicholas said.
After the full-asset merger, North Arundel plans to work with area physicians to continue that increase at New Children's and perhaps use its excess capacity to expand programs at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital about four miles away, said system spokesman Kevin Murnane.
Mt. Washington joined the system last summer. The flagship is 329-bed North Arundel Hospital in Glen Burnie, which just last month broke off merger discussions with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.