Pediatric emergency room opens in Bakersfield, another pediatric unit planned

Pediatric emergency room opens in Bakersfield, another pediatric unit planned

For years Kern County families had to make long treks north or south to find specialized pediatric treatment for their children, but that is about to change and Thursday marked a beginning of a shift toward localized care.

With a grand opening and a major announcement, Dignity Health and Valley Children’s Healthcare, which operates Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, made good on two promises to improve health care for children in the region.

On Thursday, Dignity Health formally unveiled the Robert A. Grimm Children’s Emergency Pavilion at Memorial Hospital in Bakersfield, which will feature Valley Children’s doctors providing care. Simultaneously, Valley Children’s announced its intent to build a 52,000-square foot pedantic care center in west Bakersfield at the corner of Stockdale Highway and Allen Road.

Valley Children’s Healthcare President and CEO Todd Suntrapak talks with Richard Beene about the organization’s plans to open a new specialty center in Bakersfield.

“At that site we will have room to expand to about 70-75,000 square feet,” said Todd Suntrapak, president and chief executive officer of Valley Children’s Healthcare. “More importantly it will more than quadruple the number of pediatric sub-speciality doctors that just don’t come to this community but in fact that live here. As members of the community, they will be taking their kids to soccer and you will be bumping into them in the grocery store. Our intent is to recruit pediatric specialty doctors to live here.’’

The new Eagle Oaks Specialty Care Center center will feature an array of specialists including cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, genetics, hematology, infectious diseases, orthopedics, pulmonology, plastic surgery, urology and others.

This will be the second speciality center Valley Children’s has opened in Bakersfield. The 34th Street Specialty Care Center opened in two years ago.

Suntrapak said that Valley Children’s will leverage its size to effectively recruit and attract doctors  to the region.

“We will have doctors available for kids closer to home,” Suntrapak said during an interview of Thursday’s edition of “The Richard Beene Show.”

Suntrapak made his remarks ahead of the Thursday opening of the new emergency pavilion at Memorial Hospital, which significantly adds to the investment Dignity Health has made to improve pediatric care in the region. The hospital, in partnership with Valley Children’s, opened a pediatric intensive care unit more than a year ago.

All of these moves help alleviate the gap in coverage between Los Angeles and Madera for Central Valley residents.

In 2016, Valley Children’s says it treated more than 8,000 Kern County children in the hospital and speciality center. Suntrapak said there will still be some instances where children would have to come to Madera for treatment, including cardiac surgery.

“More importantly it will more than quadruple the number of pediatric sub speciality doctors that just don’t come to this community but in fact that live here,” said Valley Children’s Healthcare President and CEO Todd Suntrapak.

However, the addition of these facilities will ease that need in other areas.

On Thursday, more than 200 people attended the opening of the Robert A. Grimm Emergency Pavilion, which has been heralded for its shortening the emergency trips for families. It’s the first pediatric emergency center in Kern County.

The emergency pavilion was developed after a major donation from the Robert A. and Kari L. Grimm Family Foundation.

Suntrapak said that it’s key for a community to have a separate the emergency rooms, because it lessens the competition for care.

“Everything we do, all day long, is about kids,” Suntrapak said.

The groundbreaking ceremony for Eagle Oaks will officially take place on April 7 with former NFL quarterback David Carr and his wife, Melody, helping lead the groundbreaking.

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