Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 21 -- HURST, Texas -- Cook Children's Medical Center plans a $6 million outpatient pediatric surgery center on its Hurst campus, officials say.
That means the state's only two facilities of that kind will be within six miles of each other in Northeast Tarrant County.
Texas Pediatric Surgery Center, a similar clinic in North Richland Hills, performed its first procedure -- inserting tubes in a baby girl's ears -- four months ago.
'We just think there's adequate population growth and need for services out there,' Cook Children's spokeswoman Carolyn Bobo said. 'Most of the research in health care shows that when these can be established in neighborhoods closer to home, people like the convenience.'
The proposed day-surgery center would offer outpatient services such as ear tubes and tonsillectomies. The urgent-care portion of the 30,000-square-foot building would be for treating minor emergencies, such as influenza and sprained ankles.
The proposed center would be at Cook Children's campus at Precinct Line Road and Mid-Cities Boulevard.
Texas Pediatric Surgery Center was called the first of its kind when it opened as an extension of the 38-year-old North Hills Hospital, the oldest hospital in Northeast Tarrant County.
Randy Moresi, administrator at North Hills, said that before and during construction on the $2.7 million center he tried to work out a partnership with Cook Children's.
'Everybody knows that there are very scarce resources in health care right now, and there are way more needs than there are resources, and so we thought, `Let's be a trendsetter,'' Moresi said. '`Let's do what everybody seems to be asking, whether it's the physicians or patients or the public, and show that we can work together.' Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they elected not to do that.'
About one-third of Northeast Tarrant County residents travel to downtown Dallas for their pediatric health care, Moresi said. The hope was to bring some of the health-care money back to Tarrant County.
Bobo said that Cook Children's has not done partnerships in the past and that the hospital, which opened in 1918, has a reputation that stands on its own.
'We expect everybody to have choices and convenience, and good quality all the way around, from different providers,' she said.
Bobo declined to say how many children would be anticipated to use the center, which officials say would take a year to 18 months to complete.
Texas Pediatric expects to serve about 1,800 children in its first year, officials have said.
Northeast Tarrant County apparently is not the main target of Cook Children's expansion plans.
Cook Children's also is negotiating to buy a prime Interstate 20 site for a pediatric outpatient clinic in south Arlington, according to people familiar with the deal. The hospital is in the due-diligence stage of acquiring 4 acres at I-20 and Matlock Road, the sources said.
Bobo said the hospital could not confirm the Arlington location or divulge specific plans. But, she said, the hospital soon may make an announcement about a south Arlington pediatric medical facility.
This year, Cook Children's conducted focus groups to gauge Tarrant County usage trends at its area operations and to determine what is needed.
Because metropolitan Tarrant County is a high-growth area, 'it sounds like it is the right thing for [Cook Children's] to be exploring,' said Bryan Sperry, president of the Children's Hospital Association.
(c) 1999, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.