BIG RAPIDS, REED CITY — Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals officials said they are proud to announce success in the pediatric observation program piloted in the emergency departments over the last 18 months.

According to a press release, the program is a partnership with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and will continue to enhance pediatric care available throughout the region.

“We are excited to formally launch the pediatric observation program in Big Rapids and Reed City,” Caroline Ring, chief nursing officer for Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals, said. “What started as a conversation about how to best care for patients locally has developed into a meaningful and collaborative program with our partners at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital."

The program provides designated rooms for pediatric observation. Pediatric patients who meet established criteria will be observed in the unit for a maximum of 24 hours, rather than being transferred to the children’s hospital in Grand Rapids.

The local clinical care teams work in close communications with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital physicians on the care plan for each child and as needed based on the child’s progress.

“This program truly puts people first,” Ring said. “It respects our patients and families by minimizing the stress and financial burden of an unnecessary transfer to Grand Rapids.”

In critical cases, or if a patient’s symptoms fall outside the criteria to stay for observation, the patient will be transferred to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for specialized pediatric care.

To celebrate the progression of the pilot program to a formal process of caring for local pediatric patients, a celebration of partnership will be Thursday, Nov. 7. A brief ceremony and tour will take place at 10 a.m. in the Big Rapids Hospital lobby and at 11:30 a.m. in the Reed City Hospital emergency entrance lobby.

The celebrations are open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.

“This program is about enhancing our presence in these communities while keeping as much care local as possible,” Dr. Bob Connors, president of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, said. “We are excited to be able to raise the level of care while leveraging our expertise to keep kids closer to home.”

Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is a 234-bed regional referral center and teaching hospital that also houses a pediatric neurocritical care unit, the only of such kind in West Michigan. It offers advanced pediatric specialty care with more than 300 pediatric physicians who practice in more than 50 pediatric specialties and programs. Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is Michigan’s largest neonatal center.