Nashville General could start pediatric program

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 4:16pm

Leaders of Nashville General Hospital at Meharry are exploring the addition of pediatric services at the city-owned facility.

Metropolitan Nashville Hospital Authority Interim CEO Jason Boyd said at Tuesday’s authority board meeting that the organization is in the early stages of evaluating whether a small inpatient pediatric program would be beneficial to the community it serves and the Meharry Medical College students who train at the north Nashville facility.

Boyd told The City Paper today that discussions about pediatric services are still preliminary. The board has conducted informal meetings with local stakeholders — including physicians, representatives of Meharry and other institutions — but it has not yet conducted a detailed analysis of the need for and viability of such a program.

“The next steps are really the board gathering and reviewing a lot of information about this because it isn’t something you want to get into lightly,” Boyd said.

The program would be designed to provide general pediatric services to the niche patient population that already accesses the facility through the emergency room or Meharry’s pediatric practices, he said.

Of course, one component of the discussion going forward will be the financial viability of pediatric services at the safety-net facility.

“If we were to launch into that, it’s got to be able to show us how it’s going to be able to pay for itself,” said board chairman Waverly Crenshaw at the meeting. “That’s going to be a challenge.”

Boyd also emphasized that the program would not be intended to “become or replace” the Monroe J. Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, which is the most comprehensive children’s hospital in the state with 283 inpatient beds.

“Any time you have one world class children’s hospital in town, that’s the standard of care in the community,” he said. “That’s always going to be the patient’s first choice.”