In a move that puts them in competition with Tacoma rival MultiCare Health System and its Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Franciscan Health System announced Thursday a new alliance with Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Under that new partnership, Seattle Children’s neonatologists and neonatal nurse practioners will provide round-the-clock care to premature and critically ill newborns at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, and neonatal support and consultation at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw beginning next year.
Franciscan owns and operates those three hospitals as well as St. Clare and St. Anthony hospitals in Lakewood and Gig Harbor.
The new partnership will expand the availability of specialized neonatal care in the South Sound through a collaborative neonatal medical team. That team will also provide training to Franciscan providers and staff members, the health system said.
Franciscan received state approval in March to open a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit for premature and critically ill infants born at St. Joseph. That certification allows St. Joseph staff to provide care for newborns as young as 28 weeks from gestation and as small as two pounds and two ounces.
The Level 2 special care nursery unit at St. Joseph is being expanded to include a five-bed Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit. That unit will open next summer.
Meanwhile, major construction is under way now at two locations on MultiCare Health System’s Central Tacoma campus to update facilities for the care of women, newborns and children.
The health system is adding on to both its Tacoma General Hospital and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital to create a new neonatal intensive care unit, an updated family birth center and an improved pediatric intensive care ward.
The new facilities will upgrade facilities that are more than two decades old. The neonatal intensive care unit was last remodeled in 1987. The pediatric intensive care facility was updated in 1991 and 1992. The labor and delivery area was last expanded in 1992.