Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is the strategic alliance between St. Joseph's and Phoenix Children's?
The two entities have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines a strategic alliance whereby St. Joseph's transitions a substantial portion of its pediatric services to Phoenix Children's Hospital, uniting much of their pediatric medical staff, nurses and other staff by mid-2011. Under the proposal, St. Joseph's retains its neonatal intensive care unit and will continue to serve certain pediatric patients in its trauma unit as well as patients age 15 and older. In addition, St. Joseph's will hold a minority interest in the children's hospital and have representation on the Phoenix Children's board of directors. The MOU also outlines the process for integrating the two pediatric programs, including physicians, nurses, and certain other staff.
What do the two organizations hope to accomplish with this strategic alliance?
We have a bold vision for the future of pediatric healthcare – one in which Phoenix Children's is a leading destination for the very best care for patients with the most complex childhood illnesses. The combination of pediatric services takes advantage of the combined expertise of two leading healthcare providers to create one of the largest children's hospitals that stands among the best in the nation.
How will this strategic alliance be implemented?
Teams of physicians and employees from both organizations will begin meeting to determine how hospital programs and pediatric services would be integrated.
How can the two differing organizations be integrated?
The mission and vision of these two organizations are very similar. With that as a foundation, the teams will co-create a new vision that encompasses the best quality and values of each organization. St. Joseph's has some very specific religious directives that must be adhered to, but within those constraints there is room to develop a new model of caring for children in the Southwest. That development will involve pediatric employees as well as community physicians.
Will pediatric services still be provided at St. Joseph's or would everything be transferred to Phoenix Children's?
St. Joseph's would continue to deliver babies and operate its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for premature babies, and would continue to care for patients who are age 15 and older. Most other services for newborns and children would take place at Phoenix Children's. The timing for this transition is mid-2011, to coincide with the opening of the new Phoenix Children's Hospital tower. Until then, patients should continue to book appointments with their regular provider as they have in the past.
Will St. Joseph's employees have to change who they work for?
For now, employees will continue with their existing employer. However, negotiations would involve the goal of transferring to Phoenix Children's most of St. Joseph's pediatric staff when the new Phoenix Children's facility is ready to be fully occupied,
Is this being done for financial reasons?
Finances are important, but the overriding motivation for both organizations is to provide children and this community with the absolute best medicine available in the world. By combining our strengths we do that.
On the financial side -- although the cuts in state funding have dramatically impacted both organizations, financial concerns are not the only reason for this strategic alliance. It is being done to maximize the efficient use of resources for both organizations, and help them achieve a united vision of enhanced pediatric services to Arizona.
What will St. Joseph's do with the extra space that is now occupied by its pediatric services?
This transition may take up to two years to be fully implemented, so during this time St. Joseph's will be reviewing its master facility plans and determining how it will reconfigure both inpatient and outpatient services. Some of the buildings that now house pediatric services are more than 50 years old, so they may be converted from patient care areas to office space, research facilities or used to address the expanding needs of its academic programs from its affiliation with Creighton University.
Will Phoenix Children's be able to hire the St. Joseph's employees that could be transitioning over?
The Phoenix Children's expansion essentially doubles its licensed beds. This growth requires parallel growth in pediatric physicians, nurses, technicians and other allied health staff. By providing continued employment for the St. Joseph's pediatric employees, this need is filled quickly with high quality, exceptionally trained professionals.
What would happen to some of the special pediatric programs at St. Joseph's – such as the pediatric part of the Barrow Neurological Institute and the Eller Congenital Heart Center?
Collaborations between the two organizations are already underway, and the joint service teams will continue to expand these collaborations under the agreement. For example, there may be a Barrow pediatric program at Phoenix Children's, and congenital heart services at both institutions to accommodate children as they age and transition to adult care.
How does this alliance fit with St. Joseph's longer-term plans?
This alliance would allow St. Joseph's to continue its ongoing evolution as an internationally recognized destination hospital where doctors send their most complex cases.
What does the term "destination hospital" mean?
While St. Joseph's and Barrow will continue to treat patients who need all levels of medical care, the hospital has earned a prominent reputation as a "destination" for patients who suffer from the most complex conditions. Physicians from throughout the U.S. and many other countries are increasingly turning to the expertise of the specialists at St. Joseph's and referring their most complex and serious cases to the hospital. St. Joseph's has become a sought-after "destination" for specialized medicine.
Have the two hospitals ever worked collaboratively before?
Yes. We have worked on a number of programs and projects together. Here are some examples:
- St. Joseph's two pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons, Dr. John Nigro and Dr. David Cleveland, provide physician coverage for Phoenix Children's. As part of that collaboration, Dr. Jeffrey Pearl has been credentialed to perform surgeries at St. Joseph's.
- Through a contract with APIPA, Banner, Phoenix Children's and St. Joseph's share responsibility for caring for some of the sickest children in the state through the Children's Rehabilitative Services program – a carve out of AHCCCS.
- 322 Community Physicians are credentialed at both Phoenix Children's and St. Joseph's, so these physicians can currently see patients at either facility.
- The two hospitals have an agreement for the director of the Children's Neuroscience Institute at Phoenix Children's to move his research projects to space within Barrow.
- Collaborative research is underway for a prospective observational study of trauma patients with one or more "occult pneumothoraces." This is an air pocket in the chest that can cause a lung to collapse. If it is "occult," it doesn't show up on an x-ray, but can be found on a CT scan. A pneumothorax generally involves the insertion of a chest tube to relieve the pressure, but the procedure can have negative effects, so the study hopes to determine which cases can be managed by continued observation and which need to have the procedure done.
Community Outreach and Prevention
Some of the community partnerships that both St. Joseph's and Phoenix Children's participate in include:
- Maricopa County Safe Kids, AZ Safe Kids Coalitions
- Valley Metro, Safe Routes to School and Bike Week Activities
- Department of Health Services, Injury Prevention Advisory Council
- Injury Free Coalition for Kids
- AZ Drowning Prevention Coalition
- A special needs panel for child passenger safety which is a collaboration of several different agencies within Maricopa County.
- Work with the International Rescue Committee in Child Passenger Safety to provide education workshops to their staff and clients.