When a child’s illness requires a hospital stay, keeping care local as long as possible is important to children and families.
The role of a pediatric hospitalist may not be familiar to many families but these physicians who focus on caring for acutely ill children while the child is hospitalized are becoming more common in Florida and are making specialized local care more possible. Nemours Children’s Health System and Wuesthoff Medical Center – Rockledge recently announced an agreement that places Nemours hospitalists at the Brevard County hospital starting on September 1st. In 2013, Nemours and Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in Haines City announced a similar agreement that benefits families in Polk County.
“When a child needs to be hospitalized, it is best for the patient and family if the hospital is close to home,” says Ann Barnhart, CEO of Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center. “This agreement between Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center and Nemours Children’s Health System makes it easier for families in and around Polk County to spend time with their hospitalized child while being cared for by the physicians employed by Nemours, an organization that solely focuses on the care of children.”
In Brevard County, the newly recruited Nemours pediatric hospitalists will provide on-site care to community-based pediatrician’s patients in the recently opened pediatrics wing at Wuesthoff Medical Center – Rockledge.
“This is an exciting chapter in the future of healthcare for our county and its youngest residents,” said John Kennedy, MD, who cares for children and families at Pediatrics in Brevard. “Having Nemours Hospitalists available for patients within our community is an invaluable resource in the event of a childhood illness or medical emergency.”
Beyond pediatric hospitalists, the agreement also includes Nemours CareConnect, a technological link that allows Nemours specialists to remotely assess a patient at a community hospital through an iPad.
“When our physicians have the opportunity to put their eyes on a patient, it will provide an added level of communication that you just cannot get over the phone,” said Lane Donnelly, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Nemours Children’s Hospital. “We think Nemours CareConnect allows care teams to better determine the safest and most necessary care for the child and family.”
Nemours has pursued these agreements with community hospitals based on the belief that as healthcare reform gains momentum, so does the demand to add greater value for patients, their families, and all partners in care.
“Hospitalists are essential to this new model, providing patients with the best care possible, in the least acute setting and at the lowest cost,” said Dr. David Bailey, President and CEO of the Nemours Foundation. “ Beyond just providing care, they are important patient advocates, helping families navigate follow-up care, and communicating with the patient’s primary care physician, therapists and specialists to ensure the best possible outcomes after the patient leaves — and preventing costly readmissions. “
Outside of these agreements, Nemours Children’s Health System is growing rapidly in Central Florida. After opening Nemours Children’s Hospital in Lake Nona Medical City in October, 2012, the system now has 19 locations in the region including Nemours Children Primary Care, Nemours Children’s Urgent Care and Nemours Children’s Specialty Care.
By Vonda Sexton, Managing Director, Strategy and Business Development