Phoebe makes partnership to bring specialized child care to Albany

Phoebe Putney and MCGHeath Children's Medical Center in Augusta are becoming a partnership to provide specialized child care in Southwest Georgia

Phoebe Putney and MCGHealth Children's Medical Center in Augusta are teaming up to bring specialized child care closer to home.

"This partnership is all about helping more of the families from the region, more of the families from Southwest Georgia, stay closer to home and yet still have access to world class subspecialists," says Dr. Bernard Maria, Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and Medical Director of the MCGHealth Children's Medical Center in Augusta.

They don't want families with children who need special care to have the burden of driving four hours away for medical attention.

"The growth opportunity for us is expanding the service offerings to women and children so there's less of a need for them to travel away from the area to get some of those higher end services," says Dr. Doug Patten, Sr. Vice-President at Phoebe and Chief Medical Officer.

The partnership will bring pediatric hospitalists (physicians who specialize in the treatment and care of hospitalized patients) and pediatric nurse practitioners followed by several board-certified physicians who specialize in specific children's service to Phoebe by mid-summer.

"It's really an aggressive recruitment process that we're in right now for both pediatricians and for pediatric nurse practitioners who will be serving alongside the pediatricians," says Dr. Patten.

In coming years the program could expand to property Phoebe recently acquired at Palmyra's campus.

"By bringing Palmyra into the family, we have the opportunity because they have unused bed space over there to move services from one place to another to realign services and that's really what the next three to four months strategic planning is all about," says Patten. Patten says Palmyra will provide Phoebe with extra capacity to "move pieces around on the board" when it comes to developing a women and children's health care center.

Once the strategic plan regarding Palmyra's use is laid out, implementation could take a few years. For now, Phoebe officials say they're focusing on bringing in specialists to where they already provide service.

"We're going to come and do clinics here, we're going to connect electronically with the other doctors here, we're going to work with the pediatricians here in the community and work with our medical students who our here," says Maria.

Also with this partnership, Phoebe and the Children's Medical Center plan to do more research in the future â" specifically regarding obesity prevention, the tobacco sensation and diabetes prevention. Maria says this research follows the way they operate at the Medical College of Georgia.

"We train a new generation of doctors. We try to move the field forward with research. It's not good enough to just do what's current in therapy. We have to push the field forward," says Maria.

Both Maria and Patten say the partnership will offer medical students and residents at Phoebe greater educational opportunities as well.

"This is groundbreaking for us because we do a lot for children in our part of the state and around Augusta and we're really excited to be partnering with Phoebe to do that down here," says Maria.