Grand Rapids’ first children’s rehabilitation hospital will help patients thrive during & after care

Since 2016, the number of children coming to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital for inpatient rehabilitation has increased by 73%. Last year, Mary Free Bed cared for 57% of those children.

That amounts to 400 to 500 a year, says Chad Tuttle, senior vice president of hospital and post acute operations at Spectrum Health West Michigan

Through a joint operating agreement, Mary Free Bed and Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital are partnering to help those in need by building the state’s first children’s rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids.  

"We've actually partnered in this care for a very long time," Tuttle says. "Spectrum [Health] has never offered pediatric acute rehabilitation, while Mary Free Bed has. What we do bring to the table is significant specialization with over 300 pediatric specialists."

Mary Free Bed pediatric physiatrists and doctors will oversee each child’s rehab journey. When they need to bring in a specialist, like a neurologist, orthopedic surgeon or oncology doctor, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital will provide those resources. 

“It's really bringing together the strengths of each organization,” Tuttle says. ”Spectrum [Health] with our deep expertise and specialization, and [Mary Free Bed] with their rich experience in pediatric rehabilitation."

By promptly providing needed rehabilitation, potential complications can be reduced and recoveries enhanced. This means these patients will see less disruption in their school and personal lives.

"These kids would benefit from an inpatient rehab stay versus spending extended periods of time in another either children's hospital or acute care hospital, where they do receive rehab, but not the highly specialized, highly focused intensive rehab that can be offered in a children's acute rehab hospital," Tuttle says.

According to a news release, the new hospital will be built on Wealthy Street across from Mary Free Bed’s main campus with a pedestrian walkway connecting the facilities. The two-story, 67,000 sq. ft. facility will have 24 private inpatient rooms, technology customized to meet children’s needs, outpatient treatment areas, spaces for specialized services, indoor and outdoor recreation areas, and a classroom for a certified teacher to help patients keep up with their schoolwork. 

More than 40 specialized rehabilitation programs will be offered at the hospital which is projected to serve 20% more patients by its third year of operation, according to Kent Riddle, president & CEO of Mary Free Bed.

“This new pediatric rehabilitation facility brings together highly specialized, integrated programs with exceptional physicians and caregivers to help children receive the treatment and therapies they need, when they need it,” Tina Freese Decker, president & CEO, BHSH System, said in the news release. “We are proud of our partnership with Mary Free Bed, built on a foundation of shared values and medical excellence, inspiring all involved,” she says.

"We know that early intense access to rehab care ultimately leads to better outcomes. This will make sure kids get access to the right level of care as soon as they are possibly ready for it so that they can get better quicker, become more independent and live as active and fulfilling lives as possible," Tuttle says. "To build something new to try and drive down the cost of care, that's really what this is about. When you can invest in the life of a child and help them get as physically independent and well as they can as quickly as possible, you will impact not just the rest of their lives, but their entire family's lives as well."

Construction costs of this hospital are estimated at $60M, of which the state allotted $10M for in July.

This will be the ninth free-standing children’s rehabilitation hospital in the United States. Construction is estimated to begin spring 2023 and is expected to take two years to complete.

Photos courtesy of Mary Free Bed
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