Primary Children's opens unit in south valley

Published: Thursday, Sept. 23 2010 12:07 a.m. MDT

People tour the new children's unit at Riverton Hospital following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

Keith Johnson, Deseret News

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RIVERTON — South valley children who are sick or injured can enjoy the specialized staff of Primary Children's Medical Center, without making the trek downtown to receive care.

Wednesday, officials cut the ribbon — using gigantic scalpels — on a new children's unit within the Riverton Hospital that will be staffed by doctors, nurses, pharmacists, child life experts and technicians, rotating through from the main children's medical campus in Salt Lake City. It's a first of its kind partnership within Intermountain Healthcare's system.

It's a "great partnership," said Dr. Edward B. Clark, PCMC's medical director. "We are committed to bring care as close to home as possible."

He and PCMC CEO Joe Mott said that the unit has been planned for about two years as an effort to allow care where patients are. The south end of the valley is the fastest-growing, so the Riverton Hospital, located at 3741 W. 12600 South, was a natural choice. To meet federal regulations, it's set up so that Riverton contracts with Primary Children's to operate the unit.

The in-patient unit has 30 beds, each with a big picture window and plenty of sky. The floor is built around a space station theme that features photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, said Kim Young, nurse manager.

The patients best suited to receiving care there, rather than at Primary Children's Medical Center, are those with low-levels of acuity, who require overnight stays, Mott said. Complex cases would still be seen at the main hospital.

Examples cover a broad range, from newborns who become jaundiced again after they go home from the hospital, to closed-head injuries, patients with respiratory illnesses, uncomplicated surgeries and others, said Young. Community pediatricians could also directly admit ill children to the unit. Riverton Hospital also has a separate children's outpatient unit.

The unit, which will open Oct. 11, is also expected to take some of the load off of Primary Children's during peak illness times, such as when respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is rampant.

e-mail: lois@desnews.com

Twitter: Loisco

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