Partnership Creates $50M Mother-Baby Center

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and Allina are extending their partnership to build a $50 million mother-baby center that will allow mothers to stay with their sick newborns.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and Allina Hospitals and Clinics are extending a long-standing partnership with a new $50 million mother-baby center in Minneapolis.

The center, which will include a neonatal intensive care unit and a level two nursery-which is for babies who are ill but do not require intensive neonatal care-will be about 96,000 square feet and will include a skyway connecting it to Allina's Abbott Northwestern Hospital. The center's proximity to Abbot Northwestern will allow mothers to stay with their sick newborns.

Currently, sick newborn babies have to travel through a quarter-mile tunnel to get to Children's neonatal intensive care unit from Abbott Northwestern.

“It's just not a good thing to separate moms from their sick babies,” Alan Goldbloom, president and CEO of Children's, said in a Wednesday interview.

Goldbloom said that the state-of-the-art center will also specialize in fetal diagnosis and treatment.

The center is slated to open in fall 2012. Construction is scheduled to begin in the next six to eight months. The building will be owned equally by Allina and Children's, with 72 percent of the profits going to Children's and 28 percent to Allina.

According to Goldbloom and Penny Wheeler, Allina's chief clinical officer, the partnership between the two organizations extends well beyond the new facility. Allina and Children's have already partnered on mother-baby care at Children's St. Paul location and Allina's United Hospital.

In addition, the organizations are working together to set standards, protocols, and best practices for mother and infant care, and extend those across Allina's health system so that patients in other parts of the state can receive that specialized care.

For example, Allina is using telemedicine-exchanging medical information from one site to another via electronic communications-to connect Children's expertise and specialty care to some of its hospitals that don't have access to it, as most communities do not have a specialty hospital like Children's.

“Geography shouldn't impact what degree of care mothers and newborns receive,” Wheeler said.

Goldbloom echoed this idea, saying that one of Children's goals is to extend its expertise outside its own walls.

He said discussions about how to improve and coordinate care have been going on for years between the two organizations, which have had a tight relationship for decades.

Once the new facility-which does not yet have a name-will be overseen by a joint operating committee comprised of leadership staff from both Children's and Allina.

Abbott Northwestern is the state's second-largest hospital based on operating revenue, which totaled $79.4 million in the hospital's 2008 fiscal year. Both Children's Hospital locations, St. Paul and Minneapolis, are also among the state's largest hospitals with 2008 fiscal year operating revenue of $209.8 million and $127 million respectively.