Wesley Medical Center has been accepted for membership in the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions, another step in its efforts to create a full pediatric service for children in the southern two-thirds of the state.
The membership essentially means Wesley has a children's hospital within a hospital and gives Wesley access to new resources as it seeks to strengthen its pediatric services.
Membership provides "a huge amount of resources and knowledge of how to make it the best for the kids," said Cyndi Chapman, Wesley's pediatrics spokeswoman.
Wesley is the only member of the association in Kansas. Children's hospitals in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Kansas City, Mo., are the closest members.
Wesley is a supporter member, one of three membership classifications.
Norida Torriente, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions, said only nonprofit hospitals fall in the other membership groups. Wesley has "all the amenities of other members" except for voting privileges, she said.
Wesley has been working to build its pediatric services for several years, adding pediatric specialists at the hospital and at the pediatric clinic that it operates with the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. The clinic is at Carriage Parkway.
The membership recognizes Wesley's efforts and puts it on par with other children's hospitals, said Wesley CEO Hugh Tappan.
"We are pleased that the quality and extent of our children's programs were judged to qualify us" for membership, he said.
More than 6,500 babies are born at Wesley every year, Chapman said, and Wesley wants to provide the services that will keep them returning though childhood.
"Our goal is to really have a one-stop shop" and to "incorporate all the things that are a need in the community" for children's health, she said.
Wesley applied for membership last fall and found out in March that it had been accepted.
Torriente said membership reaffirms a hospital's commitment to children's health.
"They're going to be able to tap into resources that will provide them with support for the services they provide in their community," she said. "It will allow them to network with other children's hospitals, children's hospital executives, in terms of sharing knowledge on how to advance child health and services."