By Cheryl Powell
Beacon Journal medical writer
Akron Children’s Hospital pediatricians are now overseeing medical care for all young patients hospitalized at Wooster Community Hospital.
Under the agreement, pediatricians from Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics’ Wooster office are treating pediatric inpatients, assisting with high-risk deliveries and examining newborns in the community hospital’s nursery.
“Children’s has just been incredibly supportive of community hospitals being able to maintain care in their communities,” said Loraine Frank-Lightfoot, chief nursing officer at Wooster Community Hospital.
The deal coincides with a decision by the Cleveland Clinic to voluntarily resign hospital privileges at Wooster Community Hospital for pediatricians at its Wooster location, effective July 1.
The Cleveland Clinic and Akron Children’s Hospital operate the only pediatric practices in town, Frank-Lightfoot said.
The Cleveland Clinic’s policy is to refer patients who need inpatient pediatric care to its programs on the main campus or at Fairview Hospital on Cleveland’s west side, spokeswoman Heather Phillips said.
Physicians in other specialties from the Wooster center are continuing to practice at Wooster Community Hospital, Phillips said.
Fewer than 20 children per year were being admitted to Wooster Community Hospital by the seven pediatricians from the Cleveland Clinic’s Wooster practice, she said.
“Most of the children who are seen are usually on an outpatient basis,” she said. “If they need to be hospitalized, they usually need specialized care.”
In addition, she said, the Cleveland Clinic Wooster Family Health and Surgery Center is opening an urgent-care center Thursday that will offer evening and weekend hours to treat children and adults.
For Akron Children’s Hospital, the agreement with Wooster Community Hospital is part of its ongoing efforts to expand its regional footprint.
In addition to its pediatric hospital in the Youngstown area, Children’s operates satellite inpatient pediatric units at East Liverpool City Hospital, MedCentral Health System in Mansfield and Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna.
Children’s Hospital also runs neonatal intensive care units inside Akron General Medical Center, Summa Akron City Hospital and St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Youngstown.
Akron Children’s also will take over the 30-bed inpatient pediatric unit at Aultman Hospital in Canton on Oct. 1.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to be able to continue to provide care for kids in their communities, close to home,” said Lisa Aurilio, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer for Akron Children’s Hospital.
Under the agreement with Wooster Community Hospital, Akron Children’s is billing patients separately for services provided by its pediatricians, Frank-Lightfoot said. The unit continues to be owned and staffed by the community hospital.
The Wooster hospital has two pediatric inpatient beds for minor illnesses, but the number could expand to as many as six if needed, Frank-Lightfoot said. The facility also has 23 bassinets in its newborn nursery, with almost 1,100 deliveries annually.
Akron Children’s is adding a fourth pediatrician to its Wooster practice, Aurilio said. Last year, the practice had more than 16,000 patient visits.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.