By Dr NV Palkar., Anesthesiologist, Florida. USA.
A growing new trend—this is certainly not a surprise for us but, nonetheless, an eye-opening trend in this country. Our own hospital, several other area hospitals in Florida and, indeed, in the country are closing or downsizing their Pediatric In-patient wards!
There just aren’t enough children!
There are, however, Pediatric Hospitals and Children’s Centers that take care of the kids. The ‘general’ hospitals do not have an adequate census of kid-patients to keep either the Pediatric staff or Pediatric beds.
Pediatric specialists are re-training in ‘adult’ medicine to cope with the lack of ‘business’. This downward trend has existed for a few years now but, somehow, now the time has come where hospital administrators are taking steps to adjust to the ‘new reality.’ Pediatric wards are being converted into adult in-patient beds. Pediatric ICUs are being converted into adult ICUs. The overall US population has been on the decline, but the decline in the pediatric population is even more severe!
Proportionately, there is an increase in the senior age group population and there are a plethora of senior living facilities, assisted living facilities and in-patient hospital beds for senior people. That’s what has happened in our hospital, as well. This trend is not likely to change any time soon.
This is the new reality that is currently obvious in most of the developed countries.
Our hospital has been a General Hospital that catered for several pediatric specialities. We had pediatric orthopaedic surgeons, pediatric general surgeons, pediatric ophthalmic surgeons, pediatric radiologists and many other pediatric specialists. They are leaving to join children’s hospitals in the district and elsewhere. General hospitals can not afford to have such specialists on staff anymore. In a practical sense, it may seem logical.
To have all kinds of services and specialists spread across all hospitals, it would be prudent to have all pediatric specialists and services provided only by children’s hospitals and have general hospitals serve the general adult public.
This is the new normal!
(The writer’s first name is Shashi.)
(Be careful not to make generalizations based on what I have said. There is no such law or legislation. Hospitals are free to make their own decisions. There could be a general hospital located in such an area that it has a large enough catchment population of pediatric patients. They can or will keep all their pediatric services and specialists as before. What I have outlined is a trend that is frequently seen. )