Monday, May 9, 2016 12:00 AM

Multi-year, multi-phase expansion starts with pediatrics

The Valley’s population is projected to increase nearly 18% over the next decade and 36% by 2036 – nearly twice as fast as California is estimated to grow. Most of that population growth in our region is expected among seniors 75 to 80 years old and those living past 100, a group more likely to need hospital care and cancer care. But the largest single age group in our region, however, will continue to be children under 5.

Within a decade, the number of children in the Valley under the age of 10 will reach nearly half a million, the largest age group in a region that suffers from a shortage of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. Childhood asthma rates and associated emergency room visits are nearly twice that of the rest of the state. In Fresno County, 10% of babies are born premature, often needing years of specialized follow-up care.

To provide more access to services, especially high-quality pediatric specialty care, Community entered into a long-term agreement with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in 2015. UCSF Benioff experts are collaborating with Community Regional to design more child-friendly treatment areas – including pediatric intensive care rooms and the planned expansion of a pediatric unit. And more than 26 UCSF pediatric specialists have already joined Community. Specialists in pulmonology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, child development, cardiology and endocrinology are seeing patients in the children’s clinic at the Deran Koligian Ambulatory Care Center on the downtown hospital campus.

The agreement integrates UCSF’s academic strengths and expertise in perinatal, pediatric specialty care and pediatric critical care with the clinical expertise of Community in obstetrics, neonatology and pediatric primary care.

Community’s Board of Trustees also approved funds for architectural and design work on future bed towers. The Clovis Community’s expansion that doubled its bed capacity in 2014 is now full. And Community Regional, the second busiest hospital in the state, has 60 beds set up in the hallways of the emergency department to hold patients waiting for hospital beds. By 2030 the largest part of Community Regional with 600 beds must be rebuilt to meet California’s new earthquake standards.

Mary Lisa Russell and Erin Kennedy reported this story. Reach them at