Health & Fitness

Valley Children’s looks to add pediatric care in Merced. Here’s what you need to know

Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County and the city of Merced are in negotiations over a north Merced property that would become an outpatient facility for the celebrated hospital.
Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County and the city of Merced are in negotiations over a north Merced property that would become an outpatient facility for the celebrated hospital. Fresno Bee file

The city of Merced and Valley Children’s Hospital are in negotiations over a north Merced property that would become an outpatient facility for the celebrated hospital.

The 4.54-acre parcel at Yosemite Avenue and Mansionette Drive owned by the city has a proposed sale price of $2.1 million, according to city staffers. It was set to be the next police headquarters until city leaders changed those plans about two years ago.

The Merced City Council unanimously approved the agreement at its Monday meeting.

The new outpatient center in Merced would offer several pediatric specialties, including cardiology and neurology. The first phase of the building would be 15,000 to 20,000 square feet and could grow to 40,000 square feet as demand for pediatric services increase, according to a news release.

More than 14,000 children from Merced County are cared for by Valley Children’s pediatric specialists per year, according to numbers in a news release.

Valley Children’s outpatient support at Olivewood Specialty Care Center, which opened in 1989, can handle about 23 percent of outpatient visits. The newly proposed pediatric medical office would expand that figure to 90 percent, the release said.

Demand for pediatric services is growing in Merced, and the new facility could keep many families closer to home, according to Todd Suntrapak, CEO of Valley Children’s Healthcare. “Our ultimate goal is to have every family throughout the Valley be within 30 minutes or 30 miles from a Valley Children’s pediatric doctor because that is what is best for kids and their families,” he said in the release.

Valley Children’s Healthcare is one of the biggest pediatric healthcare networks in the country, serving more than 1.3 million children in 12 counties throughout Central California and the Central Coast, according to the news release.

The new project would have 50 to 60 full-time equivalent employees after completion, the release said, with salaries and benefits of up to $5 million.

Mayor Pro Tem Jill McLeod, a nurse practitioner herself, praised the project.

“Valley Children’s is a name that parents and doctors have trusted for decades, with caring, knowledgeable staff and excellent service,” she said in the release. “We are very fortunate to have them expanding their operations in Merced.”

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