Richmond is one step closer to gaining more support for a hospital building only for children.
About 250 local pediatricians have signed a pledge showing their support.
Ann Sydney Hetherington's daughter is only two weeks old and comes for a checkup with her family's pediatrician, Dr. Melissa Nelson. Dr. Nelson is on the board of the grassroots organization PACKids. It stands for Pediatricians Associated Care for Kids.
"We've been very lucky and blessed with two healthy children," says Hetherington.
While this appointment is standard, Hetherington anticipates the day there is an emergency. If that day comes, she could come across a big problem.
While there is a Children's Hospital in Richmond and the health system is connected, it does not offer all the medical services under one roof. There can be some confusion on where to take a sick child, especially during an emergency.
"If I have a child who has a head injury there is one hospital that they need to go to for that issue. If I have a child with a urological problem it's a totally different hospital that I need to send them to. And then you may have a child that has two issues and then which hospital should they go to?" says Dr. Nelson.
Dr. Nelson has signed a pledge to build a comprehensive children's hospital that is completely dedicated to pediatric care on all levels. It's a team effort. More than 200 doctors from Bon Secours, HCA and VCU Health Systems along with the non-profit Children's Hospital Foundation support the pledge.
"There are clear studies that show that children's hospitals provides better care for children then what we have in Richmond which is fragmented care and pieces of pediatrics spread out," says Dr. Nelson.
While she says there is an excellent group of doctors in the Richmond area, she says the fragmented system has made it difficult to keep some talented doctors.
"When we compete with other cities like Charlotte or Akron, Ohio we struggle because those towns have children's hospitals," she said.
These doctors hope by taking this step it will light the way for all children to get their medical needs met in one place.
Dr. Nelson says a cite study has been done, but the project is still in its beginning stages.
The pledge with all the signatures is scheduled to be published in this Sunday's Richmond Times Dispatch.
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