Mt. Sinai to close children's trauma center

The N. Lawndale hospital will also end inpatient pediatric services by end of August

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By Igor Studenkov

Contributing Reporter

North Lawndale's Mount Sinai Hospital is planning to end its inpatient pediatric services and to close its inpatient pediatric trauma center by the end of August.

According to a Chicago Tribune report, the hospital said that the decision to close the center was driven by low demand and a desire to spend its resources elsewhere. Only about six out of the hospital's 24 pediatric inpatient beds are usually occupied, according to the Tribune report.

Mt. Sinai will continue to provide outpatient pediatric care, and its trauma center will still be open to patients over 16 years old. Moreover, other West Side hospitals may be able to pick up the slack.

The hospital's website described Mount Sinai Children's Hospital as a place where families can get access to "a full range of care in inpatient and outpatient settings." Inpatient service is when a patient is admitted to the hospital, while outpatient service is when a patient comes into the hospital to get treatment and leaves.

Mount Sinai's emergency room is certified as Level I Pediatric Trauma Center – which means that it provides the most comprehensive and extensive care possible. As of 2015, there were only three trauma centers of this kind in the state. Since then, the University of Chicago announced that it would open its own Level 1 trauma center in 2018, but it isn't geared toward children.

According to Becker's Hospital Review, Mt. Sinai plans to use the space that will be freed as a result of the closure to expand its cardiac and medical intensive care, as well as inpatient behavioral health services.

Two years ago, the hospital announced that it was putting more resources into treating mental health trauma. It teamed up with NATAL, an Israel-based trauma care organization, to treat psychological trauma. Mt. Sinai also teamed up with what was then known as CeaseFire Illinois to provide counseling for patients and families who came in with gunshot wounds and "other penetrating trauma."

As the Tribune article notes, there are three other West Side hospitals that will continue to offer inpatient pediatric care: Stroger Hospital, Saint Anthony Hospital and the University of Illinois Hospital. Among those three, only Stroger has a Level 1 trauma center that can treat both kids and adults. 

Stroger has 40 pediatric inpatient beds while the University of Illinois Hospital has 44 and St. Anthony has 18, the Tribune article stated. Loretto Hospital in Austin doesn't offer pediatric services beyond emergency care.

The closing of the inpatient pediatric care at Mount Sinai seems to be part of a larger regional trend. A 2015 analysis by Modern Healthcare magazine found that occupancy of inpatient pediatric beds fell by 8 percent between 2011 and 2013. Only 92 out of 213 Illinois hospitals had pediatric beds but their occupancy tended to hover around 20 percent.

That said, there is one facility that is bucking the trend. Streeterville-based Lurie Children's Hospital recently gained state approval to add 44 intensive care unit beds and four neonatal intensive care unit beds. Its official website indicates that it currently has a total of 288 pediatric beds – more beds than all of the West Side hospitals currently have combined.

Contact:
Email: igorst3@hotmail.com

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