Phoenix Children’s Hospital New ER and Trauma Center

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Phoenix Children’s Hospital will have a new emergency room and trauma center. Bob Meyer, CEO and president of PCH, will tell us more.

Ted Simons: Phoenix children's hospital is undergoing an expansion involving a new emergency room and trauma center. Joining us now is the hospital's president and CEO Bob Meyer. Welcome back, good to see you.

Bob Meyer: Yep.

Ted Simons: Is this an expanded E.R. and trauma center, a whole new facility? What's going on here?

Bob Meyer: It's both. Obviously, we have an urgency room and a trauma center today in our east building, the older of the two buildings and it was built initially for 25,000 visits a year. We're seeing about 90,000, emergency room visits a year in that space. It's obviously very cramped. So it's a complete replacement of current, new space.

Ted Simons: And this will improve care, I would imagine in a variety of ways. Give us an example of how it was before and what it's going to be?

Bob Meyer: A good example. A lot of things that need to be next to one another, adjacent like our radiology imaging department, today is a long way away. We have multiple imaging departments. The helicopter pads are too far away today. All of this gets consolidated into what would be a traditional and the kind of design you want. So again, imaging and the E.D. trauma center back one another. Helicopters land on the roof, the elevators take them into the resuscitation rooms. It will be much more improved.

Ted Simons: And you mentioned the facility handles 22,000?

Bob Meyer: It was originally built, the original building, the east -- what we call the east building is a very old building, built in the late 60's and it was built to be a community hospital. The E.D. was actually sized for 25,000 patients a year. We're seeing 90,000. We've run out of tricks. We can't put anymore children through this. We made a decision and the board agreed to replace it completely.

Ted Simons: This is a children's only emergency room and level one trauma center?

Bob Meyer: It's the only level one pediatric trauma center in the state that's certified by the American college of surgeons. And there's some subtle differences between adult and pediatric but most of all, the outcomes, the actual care of the children, the outcomes are better in a pediatric trauma center than children treated in an adult trauma center.

Ted Simons: So we've broken ground yet?

Bob Meyer: We just broke. We had our little ceremony, toss the dirt around. They're demolishing things and so forth and this is all land that we had purchased. The architects referred to as an empty chair. It's a four story addition to the west of the new hospital. Actually, will also be expanding our ambulatory clinics with new hematology, oncology clinics, surgery clinics, also replacing our laboratory. Again, a lot of things that were in that east building are going into the new building, which is current technology.

Ted Simons: Timeline for being up and operational.

Bob Meyer: 20 months.

Ted Simons: 20 months.

Bob Meyer: We've been fast-tracking this thing, all the bidding, all the design is done.

Ted Simons: Don't you have like the ninth story facility?

Bob Meyer: We've run out of capacity multiple times since we even built the new tower. We built out our ninth floor which gives us 48 more private rooms and so again, it's a continuing growth story so to speak.

Ted Simons: Indeed and sixth, fifth largest children's hospital in the U.S.?

Bob Meyer: Up to fourth.

Ted Simons: Up to fourth. My goodness. With all this going on, it sounds encouraging. What's your biggest challenge right now for the children's hospital?

Bob Meyer: It's a challenge everybody has. We're coming out of a very deep recession. The public payer for children is Medicaid for the state of Arizona. It's not Medicare, it's not the federal government per se. So we've been having a lot of issues with Medicaid reimbursement, about 50% of children in the state are on the Medicaid program. So about 50% of the children we treat are on Medicaid. So our biggest single challenge is that funding. But the state works very closely with us and we've made it all work through this recession.

Ted Simons: And we're looking at late next year, that new trauma center up and operational?

Bob Meyer: Yes.

Ted Simons: Good news, encouraging news, good to have you here. Thank you very much.

Ted Simons: Tuesday on "Arizona Horizon," an update on the expected impact of this winter's El Nino weather pattern. And we'll hear what education leaders want to see from the upcoming legislative session. That's at 5:30 and 10:00 on the next "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Bob Meyer:CEO and president of PCH

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