FHN Memorial Hospital Discontinuing Inpatient Pediatric Services - FAQs

Beginning Monday, Oct. 3, FHN Memorial Hospital will no longer be offering inpatient pediatric services. This means that, if a patient aged 16 or under needs to be hospitalized for longer than 23 hours, they will be transferred, via ground or air, to the nearest and most appropriate pediatric center (UW Madison, UW SwedishAmerican in Rockford, OSF Children's Hospital of Illinois Peoria, or another accepting facility).

How does this affect me and my family?

Your child's healthcare provider - and their regular healthcare - will not be affected. FHN will continue to offer pediatric office visits and outpatient surgical services such as (but not limited to) tonsillectomy, orthopaedic repair, and laparoscopic appendectomy.

Can I still bring my child to FHN if they are hurt or can't breathe?

Absolutely. You can still bring your child to the FHN Memorial Hospital Emergency Department for emergent care, such as an injury (broken limb, sprain or strain, cuts and scrapes) or illness. Our specially trained Emergency Room (ER) staff and providers are here to provide expert emergent care for people of all ages.

What will happen if my child is brought to FHN by ambulance?

Our ER staff and providers are equipped and trained to care for patients of all ages, including children. This has not changed and will not change. We can take care of you and all of the members of your family, no matter what age, in an emergent situation. If your child will need to be hospitalized, we will arrange transfer to the most appropriate pediatric center nearby.

Can my child have surgery at FHN?

Yes. Our primary care providers and pediatricians offer advanced outpatient care, so if your child needs a same-day surgical procedure like a tonsillectomy or fracture repair, they can stay right here, close to home. Our caring, skilled pre-operative, surgical, and recovery teams are trained to treat people of all ages.

Does this impact my newborn baby?

Not at all. Your baby will get their first "checkup" in the hospital from one of our highly qualified physicians and will be in the expert care of our FHN Family Birthing Center staff until you both are discharged.

What is the difference between FHN and a pediatric hospital?

As any parent knows, children are not just small adults. When there is a low volume of pediatric inpatients, it is difficult to maintain the clinical expertise and skill of our caregivers that is required should a pediatric patient's clinical condition decline. Pediatric patients do not exhibit declining symptoms such as an adult, they decline rapidly without warning. Though it is a wrenching decision for both parents and hospital staff, we believe that transferring pediatric patients to a hospital designed and staffed to serve children is the best decision we can make for their health and safety.

Why is this happening?

This decision was not made lightly, but aligns with FHN's vision of delivering healthcare excellence to our community, including the smallest and most vulnerable of our patients. The main reason for this shift is the expansion of outpatient care available to all of our patients. FHN's pediatricians, primary care providers, and specialists will continue to care for your child here at the hospital when it is needed, including a short stay in recovery after a procedure. But, as with adult patients, most children undergoing procedures like a tonsillectomy or fracture repair are able to go home the same day, where they are more comfortable.

Because of these changes, the number of hospitalized pediatric patients has decreased by more than 50 percent in the past three years. When there is a low volume of patients, it is difficult to maintain the clinical expertise and skill of our caregivers that is required to care for pediatric patients. It also is challenging to meet the requirements of state and federal regulatory bodies, which require the hospital to maintain appropriate clinical and professional staffing to maintain the volume and types of patients cared for. There are also certain designated requirements (security systems, play area, treatment room, equipment, developmental assessments) required to maintain hospital licensing which are challenging to provide and maintain when the pediatric volume is extremely low.

Will transferring to a larger hospital be an undue burden on a low-income family?

FHN, through our collaboration with each healthcare organization to which we may transfer, will address transportation issues as they arise. It is essential for parents or guardians to be with their child for recovery, so transportation needs will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Will the partnering institutions have the same Medicare acceptance policy as FHN?

Yes, our partnering healthcare organizations accept all Medicare plans.