Children's Health

Spectrum Health and Mary Free Bed Announce Enhanced Pediatric Care Collaboration

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Sept. 29, 2021 – Spectrum Health and Mary Free Bed leaders today announced an enhanced collaboration aimed at increasing access to excellent pediatric acute inpatient rehabilitation.

Through a Joint Operating Agreement, Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital will operate an acute pediatric inpatient rehabilitation unit at Mary Free Bed.

“We have worked closely with Mary Free Bed for many years and value our shared goal of better serving children by leveraging our respective strengths,” said Tina Freese Decker, President & CEO, Spectrum Health. “This agreement builds on our strong relationship and is focused on specialized healing care and therapy our kids need.”

“We’ll begin thinking about rehabilitation from the moment children are admitted to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital because of this collaboration,” said Kent Riddle, CEO, Mary Free Bed. “We’re all thrilled about how this program will make recoveries for kids even better.”

The partnership will enhance current services and create new ones. The story of Lyli Shults illustrates the possibilities. Caregivers from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital helped Mary Free Bed establish a pediatric ventilator program for children who require mechanical assistance for breathing. Following surgery at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Lyli transferred to Mary Free Bed where she received ventilator support and the specialized rehabilitation she needed. While at Mary Free Bed, Lyli was followed by her Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital physicians via telehealth.

In addition, through this agreement, a Mary Free Bed physiatrist, a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, will partner with Spectrum Health Medical Group physiatrists to enhance services for patients requiring post-acute care.

The joint operating agreement, which builds on the 2018 Forum for Collaboration between the two organizations, also paves the way for future projects. Neither organization plans to close or discontinue any existing medical or rehabilitation services. Rather, the collaboration is designed to expand and improve services in the region. The hospitals will remain independent.


About Mary Free Bed
Mary Free Bed is a not-for-profit, internationally accredited rehabilitation hospital. From a single bed in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1891, to a rehabilitation system with 482 beds across more than three dozen Midwest communities, we’ll restore hope and freedom through rehabilitation for more than 90,000 children and adults this year.

In addition to residency programs for clinicians and physicians, we’re the site for the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Division of Rehabilitation Medicine. Mary Free Bed conducts primary clinical research and partners with medical and academic institutions across the country.

U.S. News & World Report and Newsweek rate Mary Free Bed as a national Best Rehabilitation Hospital for 2021-22. For more information, visit


About Spectrum Health
Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system that provides care and coverage, comprising 31,000+ team members, 14 hospitals (including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital), a robust network of care facilities, teams of nationally recognized doctors and providers, and the nation’s third-largest provider-sponsored health plan, Priority Health, currently serving over 1 million members across the state of Michigan.

People are at the heart of everything we do. Locally governed and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we are focused on our mission: to improve health, inspire hope and save lives. Spectrum Health has a legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Through experience, innovation and collaboration, we are reimagining a better, more equitable model of health and wellness.





Rick Jensen, Spectrum Health                                   Chris Mills, Mary Free Bed

616.706.2608  (cell/text)                                             616.490.0480 (cell/text)