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Cape Coral Hospital to provide pediatric services with opening

By Staff | Sep 15, 2009

A decision by the Lee Memorial Health System to extend The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida into the city will mean the return of pediatric services to Cape Coral Hospital in October.
Years ago the local hospital had its own pediatric unit, but there were not many patients, said Kathy Bridge-Liles, vice president of Women’s and Children’s Services. The subsequent opening of The Children’s Hospital resulted in most children being sent to HealthPark Medical Center.
On Oct. 19, the renovated second floor of Cape Coral Hospital will open with 14 pediatric beds, with the ability to expand to 24, depending on the volume of patients who use the new extension unit.
Although the new unit will ease the lives of Cape families who have to travel to The Children’s Hospital in South Lee County, executive director John Iacuone stressed that the extension is not meant to replace the current facility at HealthPark.
“This isn’t meant to be The Children’s Hospital,” he said. “It will be more primary care and simple illnesses.”
Pediatric patients with more serious illnesses or those requiring a level of care that is not available at Cape Coral Hospital would still be routed to The Children’s Hospital, Iacuone said.
Bridge-Liles pointed out that pediatric oncology and cancer units are still located at HealthPark.
“It is not extensive, there will be a significant need for some patients to go to The Children’s Hospital,” he said.
The Cape Coral Hospital extension is designed for primary care or other common ailments, such as newborn jaundice, pneumonia or diarrhea. Doctors and nurses at The Children’s Hospital will take responsibility for managing the new pediatric floor, and they will staff both locations.
The new unit at Cape Coral Hospital will also have “hospitalists” — physicians in the hospital who work on behalf of a patient’s primary physician — to lighten the load for local pediatricians and give them more time to see patients at their own offices.
Iacuone explained that the increasing use of hospitalists has been a growing trend in the practice of medicine.
“In the past it was difficult for private pediatricians to see patients in hospital and do their private practices,” he said. “It now makes that a more workable situation.”
According to Iacuone, during the last year some children have been sent away from Lee County because a lack of beds and officials hope the opening of the new unit will stop this from happening.
The renovations at Cape Coral Hospital cost $200,000 for construction and equipment, and were entirely funded by donations through the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation.