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Mercy officials say the health system is bringing Children’s Mercy Kansas City to its Springfield campus.
SBJ file
Mercy officials say the health system is bringing Children’s Mercy Kansas City to its Springfield campus.

Updated: Mercy reaches pediatric agreement, CoxHealth officials ‘surprised’

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Last edited 11:43 a.m., March 19, 2024 [Editor's note: Following the release of the Breaking News story from SBJ, CoxHealth officials said Mercy exited the collaboration. Additional information has been added. An updated version of this article is available here.]

Mercy has entered a pediatric care partnership with Children’s Mercy Kansas City, an arrangement that does not involve CoxHealth as previously planned.

The health system announced in a news release this morning that it plans to bring Children’s Mercy Kansas City to the Mercy Springfield campus.

“We have spent the last year looking at ways to elevate pediatric care across our region,” said David Argueta, president of Mercy Southwest Missouri, in the release. “Because a significant number of our region’s children have to travel to Kansas City or St. Louis to receive the specialized care they need, we knew we had to find a solution that would allow our kids to get care here at home as often as possible."

Mercy Springfield Communities and CoxHealth announced last year they were teaming up to bring a pediatric hospital to town. At the time, according to past reporting, the two health systems were searching for a full-service pediatric partner to serve as the third organization in the pact.

However, Mercy and CoxHealth were unable to reach an agreement after a request for proposal period yielded several potential partners, including Children’s Mercy Kansas City, according to the release from Mercy.

In a statement issued after Mercy's announcement this morning, CoxHealth officials said they "were surprised to learn late last night that Mercy has ended the proposed collaboration in order to pursue an exclusive partnership with Children’s Mercy in Kansas City."

"We are greatly disappointed that Mercy made this announcement with minimal notice to us, and to the community," the statement reads. "Unfortunately, Mercy’s unilateral decision to end the collaboration is in direct conflict with the clear results of the mutually agreed upon process."

Mercy’s exit is not a scenario CoxHealth officials had anticipated.

"We knew there weren’t many examples of what we were aiming to accomplish across the country and that there was a chance we wouldn’t reach an agreement,” Argueta said in the release. “But we also know we need to enhance pediatric care in our region and make it locally available, so working alongside CoxHealth to evaluate options was the right place to start.

"I’m incredibly proud of our two teams for working together and making this issue a priority for our community, and while I’m disappointed we didn’t come to an agreement, I am pleased that we have agreed to collaborate with Children’s Mercy Kansas City to create an exceptional solution for the region that meets our primary objective, which is to provide care to our kids close to home.”

CoxHealth officials said in the statement that the health system would work with the community to consider next steps for the future of local pediatric care.

"CoxHealth prides itself on being a locally governed organization that is dedicated to our neighbors. We will make decisions based on what is best for the children of our communities, independent of corporate self-interest," the statement reads. "The families of southwest Missouri deserve outstanding care close to home, and CoxHealth will continue to boldly pursue the elevation of pediatric care."

Children’s Mercy Kansas City, according to the release, is a leader in pediatric genomics, personalized medicine and other pediatric areas.

“We are excited to collaborate with Mercy to increase pediatric services in the community to ensure families have access to world-class research and innovative care close to home,” said Paul Kempinski, president and CEO of Children’s Mercy Kansas City, in the release. “By creating a pediatric system of excellence in southwest Missouri, our patients will no longer need to drive several hours for appointments and care, which will help improve access and outcomes for all the children we serve in the area. Fundamentally, this is about providing excellent care to kids in their community.”

This is a developing story. SBJ will update it with more information as it becomes available.

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