Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, Rush University team up on pediatric care

Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Rush University System for Health are joining forces to advance pediatric care and better compete for younger patients. The move comes as hospitals deal with the financial fallout from the coronavirus and manage a logistically challenging vaccine rollout.

The clinical partnership announced today, which takes effect Feb. 1, aims to improve quality, enhance the overall patient experience and make it easier to access treatment. While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, hospital leaders said the goal is to increase efficiencies, control costs and improve quality of care.

For Rush, affiliating with Lurie—long recognized as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country—could mean gaining a foothold in the highly competitive pediatric market. For Lurie, teaming up with Rush’s three-hospital network could mean more opportunities for referrals.

Lurie will maintain its academic affiliation with Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

While the agreement covers pediatric services at Rush University Medical Center on the Near West Side, as well as outpatient pediatric services at other locations, it does not include Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora.

Lurie’s narrow focus on pediatrics presents an additional challenge during the pandemic. Unlike its top rivals, which are part of expansive health care chains, the 364-bed Streeterville hospital can’t offset patient volume and revenue declines with large numbers of COVID-19 cases and big pots of CARES Act funding.

Meanwhile, even before COVID started spreading, health systems like Rush were under pressure to compete for a dwindling number of complex pediatric cases, all while becoming more efficient and reining in medical costs.

As more kids are treated in less-expensive outpatient settings, a number of local hospitals—including UChicago Medicine’s Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey and St. Bernard Hospital in Englewood—have closed their inpatient pediatric units.

The pair also will look to better address social determinants of health, which is something they’ve worked toward as members of West Side United, a coalition of hospitals focused on improving health outcomes in West Side neighborhoods.

Lurie and Rush aren’t the only pediatric partnership in town. Advocate Aurora Health’s Advocate Children’s Hospital, University of Chicago Medicine’s Comer Children’s Hospital and NorthShore University HealthSystem’s pediatric division have collaborated since 2018 to promote access to specialized services and better attract younger patients.


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