SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Two health institutions are announcing a collaborative effort to expand children’s services in Springfield and the surrounding communities.

According to a press release, CoxHealth and Mercy submitted a request for proposal that seeks a partner that is highly specialized in pediatric care.

“There is an air of collaboration in our community, and this is the next evolution,” said Max Buetow, President and CEO of CoxHealth. “We are thrilled with this first step and optimistic about what this means for the future of pediatric patients in our region.”

The idea to collaborate came about more than a year ago as Buetow and David Argueta, President of Mercy Springfield Communities, began talking about the region’s changing healthcare needs.

“One of the first things we talked about was the need to address the gaps in pediatric care in Springfield,” said Argueta.

Mercy and CoxHealth have worked together to provide pediatric treatment to patients for many years, but the two systems now want to deepen their collaboration to expand care and reduce the number of kids who have to leave Springfield to receive specialty care.

On Dec. 13, CoxHealth and Mercy will host a public listening session at Jarrett Middle School for the community to ask leaders questions regarding the project. The time and other details for the event will be shared soon.