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Children's turns 5: Hospital was first of its kind in United States

September 09, 2013 - Bill Conrad

Five years ago Children's Medical Center opened its Legacy campus in west Plano to address the need for a pediatric hospital north of Dallas.

Today, the hospital and its associated clinics treat more than 100,000 people annually, including 45,000 emergency room visits and 7,000 surgeries. The hospital is perfectly situated to serve a five-county area that has 600,000 children, said David Biggerstaff, senior vice president of clinical and support operations.

"We watched the demographics and the area north of Dallas all the way to the Red River is one of the fastest growing regions across the country," Biggerstaff said. "Historically, that area's pediatric population has been growing at eight times the national average."

While Children's had clinics throughout the region, the opening of the Legacy campus saw Children's Dallas tread into uncharted waters.

"If you look across the country, Children's Dallas was the first pediatric hospital to open a second full-service hospital," Biggerstaff said. "While lots of hospitals were opening surgery centers and placing clinics in other locations, we were the first to open a full hospital."

Other facilities in and around Plano are capable of treating children, Biggerstaff said, but added that the Children's staff is specially trained and focused on treating patients younger than 18.

"We believe kids are not just small adults, they have different needs since their bodies are not fully developed," he said. "Our caregivers are also trained to interact with kids and comfort them. In addition to our caregivers ... we have a Funnyatrics Program where we have clowns whose only job each day is to make life better for the kids."

In addition to treating patients, the Legacy campus has increased the overall quality of life in the region and made Plano a more attractive place for potential residents and companies, said Elaine Hamm of Plano Economic Development.

"Access to healthcare is definitely part of the quality of life that is very desirable," she said. "I think a lot of folks are surprised at the specialty services provided by Children's and the range of services offered at the hospital. ... They provide a great value for all of North Texas."

As Children's begins its sixth year of operation in Plano, Biggerstaff said the hospital has its eyes on the future. No expansion plans are officially in the works, other than new operating rooms opening this fall, but Biggerstaff said the number of beds could increase from 72 to 240 as the population continues to grow in the hospital's five-county service region.

"We are a couple of years away from needing to break ground on a new building, but where we are really seeing growth is in the outpatient environment," he said. "There is tremendous demand for pediatric subspecialties and that is the first thing we are going to focus on."


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