Mary Free Bed, Spectrum to open kids’ rehab hospital

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital is teaming up with Spectrum Health to open a new children’s rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids.

gov. Gretchen Whitmer visited Mary Free Bed Tuesday to tout state funding that’ll go towards the endeavor. The record $75.5 billion state budget lawmakers Approved before the July 1 deadline includes $10 million for the Mary Free Bed Children’s Rehabilitation Center.

Whitmer said while touring Mary Free Bed’s main hospital, she ran into a friend from Lansing who was visiting the hospital with her son.

“I think it just goes to say, Every one of us knows someone who is going to benefit from this investment in Mary Free Bed,” Whitmer said.

gov.  Gretchen Whitmer speaks about the state budget during a visit to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, during which a new children's rehab facility was announced.  (July 12, 2022)
gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks about the state budget during a visit to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, during which a new children’s rehab facility was announced. (July 12, 2022)

The new hospital will replace the parking lot across the road from Mary Free Bed’s main campus, on the southeast corner of Wealthy Street and Jefferson Avenue SE. A skywalk over the street will connect the new hospital to Mary Free Bed’s main hospital.

“Today is really about collaboration, private and public collaboration and that is really what the spirit of today is about,” said Kent Riddle, CEO of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

Riddle said the $60 million project would bring the first free-standing children’s rehabilitation hospital to Michigan. It would be the ninth facility of its kind in the nation.

Riddle said they hope to secure the public and private funding needed for the hospital by next year and start construction on the two-year project at the end of 2023.

“It’s a huge win for children and their families,” said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss speaks at a press conference announcing a new Mary Free Bed children's rehabilitation hospital.  gov.  Gretchen Whitmer was in attendance.  (July 12, 2022)
Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss speaks at a press conference announcing a new Mary Free Bed children’s rehabilitation hospital. gov. Gretchen Whitmer was in attendance. (July 12, 2022)

Whitmer expects to sign the bipartisan budget supporting the project in the coming days. That spending plan will take effect Oct. 1.

“There’s a lot to celebrate in the work that we have done,” Whitmer said, pointing out how it does not raise taxes and includes investments in public safety, dental care for Medicaid, lead service line replacement, mental health facilities and staffing, workforce education programs, a new veterans home in Marquette, food and agriculture programs and Michigan’s Pure Michigan tourism campaign.

“Michigander’s work hard. When we support their grit and determination with programs and investments that channel them effectively, there’s really no limit to what we can do,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer also pointed out the West Michigan projects the next budget will support, including:

  • A new amphitheatre and this children’s hospital in Grand Rapids
  • Pipeline repairs in Holland Township
  • Kalamazoo river restoration and upgrades to Binder Park Zoo in the Battle Creek area
  • Redeveloping the Third Street Wharf and channel lighthouse in Muskegon
  • Water infrastructure improvements at Sparta and Lawton

“This budget really makes huge in delivering on the kitchen table fundamental issues by investing in people, unleashing Michigan’s potential and funding key projects… this budget makes a real difference in people’s lives,” Whitmer said.

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