Ten years after Maryville's Children's Healthcare Center in Des Plaines accepted its first patient, the site will be expanding services to help more young people make the transition from the hospital to home.
Under a state law going into effect Monday, the center will be allowed to offer 16 beds compared to the dozen it has been using the past decade.
The program helps children up to age 21 return home by training parents to use advanced in-home equipment such as a ventilator, tracheotomy or feeding tube. Patients at the center have a range of complex medical needs, from issues at birth to complications from gunshot wounds or car crashes.
"This is about families that really care about their children, but they're just faced with an overwhelming situation where their child needs 24/7 care," said Sister Catherine Ryan, the executive director of Maryville.
The new state law is intended to reduce waiting lists and allow the center to keep beds reserved for patients who may need to temporarily return to the hospital for treatment, Ryan said.
State Sen. John Mulroe, a Chicago Democrat, sponsored the legislation.
"This legislative change wouldn't have been possible without the support of Sister Catherine Ryan, advocates and constituents," Mulroe said in a news release. "Together, we are strengthening our community."
Maryville is one of three sites in the state to provide transitional care. The others are Almost Home locations in Naperville and Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.
The idea behind these transitional care providers is to ease the burden on hospitals and families. The care is designed to cut costs to health care providers, reduce emergency room visits after a child returns home, and give families expertise to provide care at home.
"Our mission is to protect children and care for children and strengthen families," Ryan said. "These are some of our most vulnerable children in our entire society."