Munson Health
Infants and Children

Child Life Specialist

The profession of child life specialist was created to help children and their families navigate the emotionally and physically demanding process of coping with hospitalization. Munson Medical Center sees the need for a child life specialist to enhance their family-center model of care. A child life specialist would provide continuity of care from the time a child is admitted to Munson through their discharge.

Munson’s child life specialist would be part of an interdisciplinary team, collaborating with the family, physicians, nurses and other members of the health care team to develop a plan of care. Children and their families would feel safe and comfortable from the moment they arrive at Munson. A child life specialist would be able to provide a caring, consistent environment so healing can begin.

The cost to provide the Child Life Specialist Program is $150,000.


Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Munson Medical Center has the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) north of Grand Rapids. More than 300 fragile infants are cared for in the unit each year, and additional infants are transported by air to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital or University of Michigan Health System. Munson expects an upward trend toward an average of 350 admissions annually. Nearly 60 percent of babies served in the NICU are insured through Medicaid. Each year, the NICU loses about $370,000 because of low Medicaid reimbursement rates. As demand increases, the NICU will need to serve more families with fewer resources.

The NICU identifies at least $100,000 in small equipment needs annually. Some items include new glider rockers, bedside milk warmers, scales, and monitoring equipment. Charitable gifts help meet the equipment needs for the program, and positively impact the experience of families who use the services.

Pediatric Specialty Clinics
Subspecialty clinics for children in northern Michigan are limited because of a shortage of pediatric medical subspecialists. Many pediatric subspecialists are unable to make a viable living in this region because there are not enough children living in northern Michigan to support a fulltime practice. Pediatric patients who need subspecialty care usually travel to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids or to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. 

Pediatric subspecialty clinics at Munson Medical Center staffed by visiting pediatric specialists alleviate some of the family’s financial strains and allow families to concentrate on helping their child get better and feel better. Through pediatric subspecialty clinics, local physicians can be a part of the child’s care team.

Many under-insured or uninsured local children with serious medical issues go without care because of access barriers related to geography. Some families have unreliable transportation or employment limitations that do not allow them the time off to make multiple trips downstate. The cost of missing work, daycare for other children, gas, and a hotel room can be overwhelming.  Some families may need to travel weekly or monthly for treatment, depending on their child’s condition.

Currently, 20 subspecialty clinics are offered locally to pediatric patients. Clinics include pediatric cardiology, feeding clinic, orthopedic clinic, hematology and oncology clinic, as well as a speech and hearing clinic. Munson continues to monitor our region for any additional pediatric specialists who may be needed. Your support will help continue these valuable pediatric services for our community.