Adult intermediate care to expand at Center for Medically Fragile Children

Providence Child Center in Portland, Oregon

Krista Farnham
Chief Executive
Providence Portland Medical Center

Kendall Sawa
Chief Operating Officer
Providence Portland Medical Center

We want to share some changes that will be taking place at the Center for Medically Fragile Children, our pediatric nursing facility located at Providence Child Center on the Providence Portland Medical Center Campus. The CMFC at one time occupied two floors at the center. With declining census in recent years, the children were served on the first floor, leaving the second floor vacant.

You might remember we provided temporary care for some of our Providence Benedictine Nursing Home patients on the empty second floor during the fires two years ago. And, during the recent COVID surges, Providence Portland successfully used the second floor as a 12-bed emergency step-down unit to free up hospital beds for critically ill patients coming in though the emergency department. 

This past spring, we began to operate the emergency beds as an adult intermediate care facility, or ICF.

With fewer CMFC residents as the young people age out of our ministry and a growing demand for intermediate care of our hospital patients, we will be re-organizing the floors at CMFC over the coming months.

The CMFC residents will be relocated to the second floor, which gives them easy access to their rooftop outdoor garden, therapy spa room, indoor pool and family apartment. The first floor will become a 28-bed ICF. The ICF will serve patients who no longer need hospital care and are not ready to return home or to their residential care facility. This will open capacity to allow our hospitals to care for patients who need a higher level of care.

We realize this much needed ICF means a change to one of our ministries that is truly at the heart of our Mission – serving medically fragile children.

In 1945, the Sisters of Providence opened Our Lady of Providence Nursery, an orphanage, at the request of the state. Over the years the ministry eventually became an inpatient pediatric nursing facility for medically complex and fragile children.

This work has profoundly touched all people of Providence, and especially those who care for our young residents and their families.

In the past, we have served as many as 58 residents at a time with ages ranging from infants to 21, when our young people age out by Oregon law and relocate to adult facilities. We currently serve 23 young people, as the state has determined medically fragile children are best cared for in home and community-based settings and is no longer supporting long-term care admissions to our center. 

We want to acknowledge the changes to our CMFC ministry are part of the difficult journey we are on to best serve our community. It is good to reflect on the words of the Sisters of Providence in their Hopes and Aspirations document – they ask us to be open to changing with the signs of the times. This new use of our space reflects that openness, and we believe it will make a difference to those we serve who are in need of this care.
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