BIG RAPIDS, REED CITY — Spectrum staff were in celebratory mode as vice president of medical affairs for Spectrum Health Grand Rapids and the Children's Hospital Matthew Denenberg led a ceremonial ribbon cutting in honor of the hospital's partnership with Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.

"It's exciting for me because we've been working on this for four or five years and this seems like a culmination of a lot of peoples' hard work," Denenberg said.

In an effort to keep pediatric patients local, and closer to their families, Spectrum Health opened pediatric observation programs at all their regional hospitals — Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals included.

"This is great opportunity between DeVos Children's Hospital and Big Rapids to work together to determine which patients meet the criteria to stay in our hospital locally or to determine which patients essentially need to be seen at DeVos," Spectrum Health nurse manager for the emergency room Walt Hartline said.

To take part in this program, Spectrum Health Big Rapids hospital designated rooms within the emergency department for pediatric observation.

According to a press release, the regional hospital emergency room providers and employees also receive additional training and education on pediatric observation care.

Pediatric patients who meet established criteria can be kept for observation at the Big Rapids hospital, instead of being admitted to regional hospitals.

"We took two of our rooms and made them pediatric-friendly," Spectrum Health chief nursing officer Caroline Ring said. "We colored the rooms the same colors as Helen DeVos. We got furniture from Helen DeVos and really tried to create a similar environment to what Helen DeVos offers."

Denenberg said being part of the program will provide Spectrum Health Big Rapids hospital with a chance to continue to provide exceptional care for patients at home and in the community.

"This is an exciting time for our community because we can keep our pediatric patients local," Hartline said.