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Osceola Regional To Open County's First Pediatric ICU Beds

Osceola Regional Medical Center is opening the first pediatric intensive care unit beds in Osceola County.
Osceola Regional Medical Center is opening the first pediatric intensive care unit beds in Osceola County.

Osceola County is getting its first pediatric intensive care unit beds this week.Osceola Regional is opening a six-bed ICU for children along with eight private pediatric beds attached to a new pediatric emergency room.

While Osceola County has no ICU beds for kids according the Health Council of East Central Florida, there are more than 100 beds in Orange County. Dr. Al Torres with Nemours said the new beds will help keep patients and families from traveling to neighboring counties.

“That’s invaluable in the recovery of a child who’s ill," Torres said. "The family not being stressed by, OK, who’s gonna stay, how are we gonna get here tomorrow, I don’t have money for gas.”

Osceola Regional Medical Center is owned by for-profit hospital chain HCA, which is paying doctors from nonprofit Nemours to staff the beds. Osceola Regional's CEO Robert Krieger said they send about 500 patients per year out of Osceola County that could go to the ICU beds.

“Well quite honestly, if we grow the way we think we’re growing, we’re not looking to be a tertiary center, but if we grow with the county, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we had to expand the bed count we have right now," Krieger said.

Krieger said Osceola Regional doesn't plan to become a pediatric trauma center or begin residency programs for pediatric doctors in training. But they do plan to expand to other hospitals, and are also looking at using telehealth to get more Nemours specialists into the emergency room.

Listen to the audio for a full interview with Krieger.