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NORMAL - The pediatrics unit at BroMenn Regional Medical Center will relocate within the hospital during the next several months, a move that may serve as a precursor to other unit transitions in the years to come, the hospital's chief operating officer said Wednesday.

Pediatrics will remain on the same floor at BroMenn but will be moved to the other end of the medical center, Dr. Gary Hagens said.

"The staffing levels of pediatrics have stayed the same," he said. "Our bed complement stays the same, and we will have available the same number of rooms."

Hagens said the new location will be better for infants, children and their families because it will be closer to the medical unit. Each room will have a private shower.

Earlier this year, medical oncology was consolidated onto the medical floor.

"Those patients (with cancer) are receiving the same level of care under the same nursing leadership but in a different area of the hospital," said Hagens, who isn't aware of changes in staffing levels as a result of the move.

"BroMenn, like other hospitals throughout the country, is trying to deliver care as efficiently as possible, while maintaining the same high level of care," Hagens said.

But at BroMenn, the moves may set the stage for future moves, Hagens said.

BroMenn Chief Executive Officer Roger Hunt previously has discussed BroMenn's plan to replace its older patient care areas with additions within 10 years. Those planning meetings involve discussions of where certain departments may move, Hagens said.

BroMenn isn't alone in transitions involving pediatrics. OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington merged its pediatrics unit with the hospital's adult medical surgical unit two years ago.

The pediatrics unit was busy only during certain times of the year, such as January and February, when a lot of children are sick, said Deb Smith, St. Joseph's assistant administrator and chief nurse executive. It made no sense to have rooms that were empty but that could have been used for adult patients, she said.

Rooms on one side of the medical surgical unit are for pediatric patients, who are cared for by nurses with special skills and competency in pediatrics, Smith said. The pediatric security system has been relocated to that floor, and the former pediatrics unit has been renovated into the orthopedic-neurosurgery unit.

Acutely ill children are transferred to Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria, which has a pediatrics intensive care unit.

St. Joseph cares for oncology patients in its medical unit, Smith said. The number of oncology inpatients has declined as more cancer patients receive outpatient care at the Community Cancer Center in Normal, she said.

Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Lincoln and OSF Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac do not have separate pediatrics and medical oncology units, spokeswomen said.

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