In 2015, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Specialty Care Center (CSCC) opened in west St. Louis County. In its first year, it recorded more than 75,000 patient visits to Washington University clinics and St. Louis Children’s Hospital (SLCH) service areas; in 2017, that number increased to more than 104,000. Early discussions are underway to explore the possibility of building another specialty care center to serve another area of St. Louis County.
In December 2017, St. Louis Children’s Hospital After Hours opened in south St. Louis County. Through March 2018, the location’s pediatric nurse practitioners saw a total of 2,000 patients, for an average of 19 patients a day. Plans call for opening additional After Hours sites in the future.
As early as 1996, Washington University emergency medicine physicians and pediatric hospitalists at Children’s Hospital began staffing the pediatric emergency unit at Missouri Baptist Medical Center and providing neonatology coverage for newborns. Similar services were expanded to Progress West Hospital in O’Fallon, Mo., with the addition of pediatric inpatient coverage for overnight observation or further treatment, and the recent addition of orthopedics coverage for both Missouri Baptist and Progress West. Recently, Children’s Hospital pediatric hospitalists began staffing emergency units at Memorial Hospital Belleville (Ill.) and Memorial Hospital East in Shiloh, Ill., while also providing 24-7 neonatology coverage. This summer, pediatric specialists began staffing the emergency unit at Northwest HealthCare in north St. Louis County.
These offsite locations reflect a new strategy at St. Louis Children’s Hospital that focuses on making Washington University physicians and the hospital’s services accessible to patients and their families where they live. It reflects a significant change from how teaching hospitals viewed their role in the past.
“There was a time in academic medicine when the goal was to see enough patients to train your medical students and residents,” says Mark Lowe, MD, PhD, vice chair of clinical affairs, strategic planning, in the department of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine. “Today, most academic medical centers are now major health care providers. To fill that role effectively and in a way that benefits our referring physicians and their patients requires us to move our specialists and services closer to the families we serve.”
Hospitals expanding into the communities they serve is not a new concept—it’s being done throughout the country—but in the past Children’s Hospital took a more cautious approach to embracing the trend. That is no longer the case, according to Michele McKee, SLCH vice president, finance and strategic planning.
“Our goal is to become less main campus focused, which is what our referring physicians, patients and their families have been asking of us for a long time,” she says. “It’s admittedly hard to navigate Children’s Hospital— traffic getting here can be congested, families need to park in a garage, and then they have to find their way through a large hospital. When they need to see physicians for relatively minor or routine care, they would rather go to facilities near where they live that have convenient parking and access.”
The CSCC perfectly illustrates how Washington University physicians and hospital services are broadening accessibility. The CSCC offers clinics for 19 pediatric specialties as well as surgical, imaging and laboratory services, among others. It is located next to Interstate 64, a convenient thoroughfare not only for St. Louis County residents but also for those living farther west. And adjacent surface parking lots allow direct entrance into the facility.
Beyond convenience, however, is the importance of providing easy access to the hospital’s expertise. McKee uses the St. Louis Children’s Hospital After Hours location in south St. Louis County as an example.
“We received feedback from pediatric primary care physicians that after close of business on weekdays and over the weekend, parents were taking their children to urgent care clinics designed for adults,” she says. “The quality of care for pediatric patients was less than optimal, and the pediatricians had little to no communication from these adult-based facilities.”
The Children’s After Hours clinic addresses those concerns by providing a level of care similar to that of a physician’s office through nurse practitioners specially trained in pediatrics. In addition, physicians receive thorough and timely communication about the care provided to their patients and any follow-up measures needed.
“Both St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine are among the best in the country,” says Dr. Lowe. “Our goal is to make sure that expertise is easily available throughout our communities so that children receive the best care possible, whether it’s treatment of common childhood illnesses and injuries or complex medical issues.”
Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery Expands Coverage to Offsite BJC Locations
For years, Washington University pediatric orthopedic surgeons have provided emergency room coverage at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Realizing that traveling to Children’s main campus is not practical for many families, the surgeons are now providing ER coverage within the emergency departments at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in west St. Louis County and Progress West Hospital in O’Fallon, Mo. In addition, a pediatric orthopedic surgery office is now open at Progress West.
“It is our goal to make our expertise in pediatric orthopedics more accessible to the children in our communities,” says Washington University physician Charles Goldfarb, MD, chief of orthopedic surgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “If it’s 5 p.m. on a Thursday evening in west St. Louis County and your child has a major orthopedic injury such as a broken arm, fighting the traffic to get to Children’s Hospital’s main campus is difficult. Now families have the option of accessing our expertise where they live.”
Washington University pediatric orthopedic surgeons are available 24/7 at Missouri Baptist Medical Center’s pediatric ER, and approximately 50 percent of the time at Progress West Hospital in O’Fallon, Mo.
“The bottom line is that we have exceptional experience as pediatric orthopedic surgeons, our patients and families appreciate what we do, and if we can provide our services in a convenient location, it’s a winning situation for us all,” says Dr. Goldfarb.
Washington University Multispecialty Center Coming Soon to Memorial Hospital East’s Medical Office Building
In addition to emergency room coverage and 24/7 hospitalist and neonatology services at Memorial Hospital East in Shiloh, Ill., the following outpatient pediatric services will be available at the hospital’s Medical Office Building, Suite 140, beginning in July:
- Adolescent medicine
- Allergy, immunology, pulmonary medicine
- Cardiology, including fetal echos
- Maternal fetal medicine/OB (coming Fall 2018)
For more information about St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s offsite services, including the schedule of services, call Children’s Direct at 800.678.HELP (4357).