Last updated: July 24. 2013 2:45PM - 550 Views

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Everybody remembers the crisis a few years ago when Southern Ohio Medical Center wanted to close down the pediatric inpatient services. We won that battle because of the outcry of the pediatricians and their patients in this community. But we lost the war.

At that time Dr. Hudson offered a plan, that the hospital accepted in the end, to put the pediatric inpatient services near the emergency room so that dedicated pediatric nurses could use their skills on children seen in the emergency room when there were no inpatients. We understood that hospitalizations for children are uncommon and it was hard to maintain the staff when there are no patients. The administration says that pediatrics is a big money loser.

But then the plan was quietly undermined. Most of the pediatric nurses have left in disgust because they were doing everything but pediatrics in the emergency room even when there were children to be seen. Pediatrics was also staffed by some ER nurses who were insecure and who did not want to be there.

Doctors Hudson and Keys finally gave up fighting and quit their hospital services as they have explained in their press release back in December. The remaining pediatricians then offered a plan that asked SOMC to do what they had promised to do three years ago and in addition we offered an after hours pediatric clinic staffed by the pediatricians who would help train and utilize the dedicated pediatric nurses. We also offered to get Doctors Hudson and Keys to come back in this effort and guarantee that the services of the nursery and pediatrics would not be jeopardized. This would have cost very little.

Instead of dealing with the pediatricians who have been working in this community and struggling with this administration for decades, SOMC told us that one of us could be salaried as the “chief of pediatrics.” The salary that they offered for this chief was very large. It was not accepted by any of the doctors here because we saw this tactic as risky and divisive. Their plan is to set up a clinic with a schedule to compete for patients. It’s going to cost a lot more money to hire the rest of the doctors and nurse practitioners that will be required.

In the article in the paper a few Saturdays ago, Mr. Arnett makes it sound like there is nowhere to go for worried mothers of sick children. There he also says that they will have a special relationship with Nationwide Children’s in Columbus. This relationship is not new. We have always worked in close coordination with the children’s hospitals in Columbus and Cincinnati and the newborn nursery at Cabell Huntington.

John DiTraglia MD

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