In a recent development on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, a longstanding partnership between Eastern Shore Rural Health (ESRH) and Riverside Hospital in providing obstetrics and pediatric care ended as ESRH decided to withdraw its inpatient pediatric services from Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital.
Riverside Hospital expressed disappointment in ESRH’s decision, emphasizing the abruptness of the 60-day notice period given by ESRH and the consequent challenge in finding replacement pediatricians. Mike Dacey, M.D., President and CEO of Riverside, acknowledged the essential role pediatric coverage plays in maintaining obstetrical services but affirmed Riverside’s commitment to finding short-term solutions and exploring long-term plans for enhanced pediatric services on the Eastern Shore.
Responding to Riverside’s statement, ESRH CEO Jeannette Edwards stated that starting February 4, 2024, ESRH would focus solely on providing pediatric care in outpatient settings, relinquishing their responsibility for newborn care immediately after birth at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital. This decision aims to expand pediatric appointments within Rural Health centers, redirecting efforts toward outpatient pediatric care.
Edwards highlighted a year-long dialogue with Riverside’s leadership, internal discussions, and consultation with neonatal experts preceding this decision. She underscored the challenges faced in recruiting pediatricians willing to provide both inpatient and outpatient care, ultimately leading to ESRH’s decision to withdraw from inpatient care.
The withdrawal decision, while impacting the continuity of inpatient pediatric services at Riverside, aligns with ESRH’s aim to focus on outpatient primary care medicine at their centers, allowing Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital to concentrate solely on delivering inpatient services.
The departure of ESRH from providing inpatient pediatric care at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital signals a significant shift in local healthcare dynamics on the Eastern Shore, affecting nearly 8,000 patients aged 18 and under who relied on ESRH as the sole provider of pediatricians in the region.
Both ESRH and Riverside expressed commitment to continue collaborative efforts to ensure high-quality healthcare for the Eastern Shore community, albeit with a restructuring of their roles in delivering medical services.
The dispute raises concerns about the future of pediatric care on the Eastern Shore and underscores the complexities faced by healthcare providers in sustaining comprehensive services in rural areas. The potential ramifications of this decision on patient access to pediatric care remain a concern for the local community.