By BECKY GILLETTE
Children have different medical needs. Their diseases are different. The way you care for them is very different. They require a different focus, says Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children’s of Mississippi, which is the pediatric care arm of the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC).
And families from the second largest population area in Mississippi, the Gulf Coast, will be able to access the specialized care provided by the Children’s of Mississippi now due to a new collaboration with the Coast’s largest hospital, Memorial Hospital of Gulfport.
“We started managing their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Jan. 22, and March 26 we took over responsibility for their four outpatient clinics,” Giesecke said.
“At the same time, we started providing management for their NICU, we also hired their pediatric hospitalist so we have inpatient coverage in their pediatric unit.”
The pediatric clinics are located in Gulfport, Biloxi, Orange Grove and Bay St. Louis. The staff will remain the same but families will have access to more specialists saving the time and expense of making the long drive to Jackson.
“Memorial Hospital Gulfport reached out to us,” Giesecke said. “They wanted us to come in and help them. They provide really excellent pediatric care, but they wanted to make sure that their service and quality was the equivalent to being in a children’s hospital.
“From their end, they get children’s hospital level quality and service, and they get support from our physicians and our leadership to be able to help them grow strategically and operationally. And then the community benefits from those same things, plus having access to more specialty pediatric care. And then the benefits to Children’s of Mississippi is we are really able to live out our mission, which is to improve healthcare for children across the State of Mississippi.”
Another advantage he said, it that eventually they want to be able to expand education programs for pediatric providers on the Coast.
“Another way it benefits us is within our teaching programs,” Giesecke said.
In 2014 Children’s of Mississippi started providing specialty care on the Coast. Physicians from Children’s of Mississippi would rotate down to the Coast to see patients.
“We’ve been expanding in those services for the past four years,” Giesecke said. “We are about to start our third expansion for specialty services. This partnership was really just an extension of that, us being able to touch more children in the state and on the Coast.”
Children’s now has full-time pediatric specialists in the following area: cardiology, neurology, pulmonology, orthopedics, general surgery, child development, hematology\oncology, genetics and maternal\fetal medicine.
Have access to those specialists not only saves families time and money to drive, but in the past some families just wouldn’t have accessed a specialist because the drive was too much of a burden.
In addition to the office visits, there will also be telemedicine consultations in several specialties: urology, genetics, hematology\oncology, child development and the child safe center for kids who have been potentially abused or need special care. In some areas like hematology, a specialist might see the patient in person one week and do telemedicine the next week.
Gary Marchand, president and CEO of Memorial Hospital of Gulfport, said they are excited about the collaboration.
“I think it means good things for the youngest residents down here, as well as their families,” Marchand said.
Memorial will continue to operate all the more intensive inpatient services.
“We have a collaboration with the Children’s of Mississippi on the clinic side,” Marchand said. “They become responsible for general pediatrics and then that allows them to deploy more pediatric specialists to the Coast so there is more convenience and easier access for patients on the Coast. The collaboration allows Children’s to operate both general and specialty pediatric clinics under a single management structure.”
Patients see a general pediatrician first. The general pediatrician then refers the child for specialty care if needed.
“The goal is to sustain the long-term viability of the pediatric clinics on the Coast,” Marchand said. “By partnering with Children’s of Mississippi, we are increasing the availability of pediatric specialty care to the residents of the Coast. The referral for specialty care will be seamless and local access to specialists will be improving– families and patients will have more convenient access and be traveling less.”
Over time the collaboration will allow Children’s of Mississippi to expand specialty services on the Coast. The first step, though, was pairing general pediatricians with specialists. Step two is to grow access to additional specialists and gradually add more intensive procedures.
Memorial Hospital is the largest hospital on the Coast with 303 beds. It is a Level II trauma center and the Coast’s only Level III NICU.
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