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Shriners, Tampa General hospitals join to treat more children

The new partnership follows a Shriners’ decision earlier this year to end inpatient care in Tampa.

The Shriners Hospitals For Children-Tampa has entered into a partnership with Tampa General Hospital to provide surgeries for pediatric patients.

The agreement, announced Tuesday, follows the January announcement by Shriners Healthcare for Children that it would end all inpatient care locally and switch to same-day, outpatient care in August.

“The decision was based on health care patterns,” said Fleury Yelvington, an administrator with Shriners Healthcare for Children-Florida, in a statement. “As health care needs have changed, especially in pediatric care, we’ve found a reduced need for inpatient hospital care.”

RELATED: Shriners Hospital in Tampa plans to end inpatient care, shed jobs

Shriners Spokesman, Mel Bower said they were seeing fewer surgical patients in recent years, in part to a “competitive health care marketplace” in Tampa Bay with competitors like Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, which also treat complex pediatric cases.

“We considered three main criteria for a partner — a history of quality patient care, research and education,” Bower said. "Several others already have partnerships like this. For example, our location in Lexington partnership with the University of Kentucky.”

The Shriners nonprofit parent organization, known for charitable work, transitioned a number of its hospitals to this new focus. Tampa is one of five locations that no longer offer hospital care for children.

Shriners operates 20 hospitals across the country. Routine care, like prosthetic and wheelchair fittings, will continue at Shriners location on the University of South Florida campus. Shriners International’s headquarters is located at Rocky Point in Tampa.

Tampa General is the region’s only Level 1 trauma center, and already offers all of the pediatric sub-specialities that Shriners patients need, according to a news release.

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“We’re proud that we could work together with Shriners in providing the best possible care for these young patients, and we appreciate their recognition of our surgical expertise,” said John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General, in a statement. “When strong community institutions look for innovative ways to work together, we can do more to help improve health in Tampa Bay.”

Shriners physicians will continue to evaluate pediatric patients at its facility in Tampa. Surgeries will be scheduled in collaboration with Shriners and Tampa General clinicians.