Concerns over Phoebe, AAHC pediatric hospitalist program

Concerns over Phoebe, AAHC pediatric hospitalist program
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - South Georgia parents are concerned about a recent change in Phoebe Putney Hospital and Albany Area Health Care pediatrics policy, and some pediatricians are recommending going to a Macon hospital if your infant has to be admitted for care.

Phoebe and Albany Area Healthcare will discontinue their pediatric hospitalist service on nights and weekends at the end of August.

Pediatric Hospitalist program assigns a doctor to care for young patients during their entire stay at the hospital.

Now nurses and family medical doctors will provide care on nights and weekends.

Southwest Georgia Pediatrics sent a letter to its patients stating that inpatient care will be best served through the pediatric hospitalist service at Navicent Healthcare Macon.

Phoebe responded with the following statement:

"Phoebe and Albany Area Primary Health Care (AAPHC) remain committed to providing our region’s best healthcare to our youngest patients.  Through a partnership with Phoebe, AAPHC and other community pediatricians, we will continue to serve pediatric patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Albany Area Primary Health Care has operated the pediatric hospitalist program at Phoebe for close to 3 years.  Staffed solely by AAPHC pediatricians and supported financially by both AAPHC and Phoebe, this hospitalist service has been offered as a benefit to all pediatric healthcare providers at no charge or contribution.

'As a non-profit community health center, AAPHC made the decision to alter the pediatric hospitalist program to ensure financial sustainability and adequate physician coverage," said Shelley Spires, AAPHC Chief Executive Officer. "Therefore, we are working with Phoebe and other local pediatricians to ensure our community maintains around-the-clock pediatric emergency and inpatient care.'

Starting on September 1, 2017, AAPHC pediatric hospitalists will be onsite at Phoebe during daytime hours Monday – Friday.  During nighttime and weekend hours, nurse practitioners and family medicine residents doing pediatric rotations will be on duty in the hospital.  They will be backed up by on-call pediatricians from AAPHC and any other healthcare groups who choose to participate in this cooperative program, which is a standard model at many similar-sized hospitals.

Regrettably, there are certain pediatricians who do not want to participate in this collaborative on-call program and have chosen not to treat their patients in an emergency room or inpatient setting.

'As we have for more than 100 years, Phoebe will continue to provide facilities and resources to assist physicians in caring for their patients who require hospitalization," said Steve Kitchen, MD, Phoebe Chief Medical Officer.  "We will continue to work with AAPHC and other community pediatricians to ensure pediatric patients get the highest quality emergency and inpatient care they need.'

Phoebe also provides access to expert pediatric subspecialty care, such as a full-time pediatric cardiologist, Ben Toole, MD, of the Sibley Heart Center (a division of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta) who resides in Albany.  Outpatient pediatric subspecialty care is also available locally through Phoebe's partnership with the Medical College of Georgia."

We also contacted Southwest Georgia Pediatrics and they didn't have a comment.

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