Community Hospital Anderson to close pediatric unit in July

Community Hospital Anderson (Photo: WTHR/Jennie Runevitch)

ANDERSON, Ind. (WTHR) - A hospital in Madison County is shutting down its pediatric unit in less than a week and the sudden closure took parents off guard.

Community Hospital Anderson says it's a simple numbers game, just not enough young people who need inpatient pediatric services.

But some parents still have concerns.

Stephany Finney is a home daycare owner and a mom.

When kids get too sick for daycare and parents still need to work, she refers them to the "Under the Weather" program at Community Hospital Anderson.

"I've actually personally used that service and it's phenomenal," Finney said. "For $3.00 an hour, they actually get a nurse that is right there with them in their room, takes care of them for the whole day.

You can go to work, not lose your job and come back and pick up your kids when they're sick."

But that service, along with the entire pediatric unit at the hospital, is going away July 1.

The closure wasn't publicized, Finney said.

"There was no announcement, nothing," she said.

She heard it from a nurse, who was given 29 days to transfer to another department.

Community Hospital Anderson told Eyewitness News the unit had a total of eight staff members. One retired and the rest "were offered opportunities at Community Hospital Anderson or within Community Health Network".

"It's just really disheartening for our community and the kids to see this go," Finney said.

Community Hospital Anderson says it's closing the pediatric unit because not enough kids need it.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, Community Anderson President & CEO Beth Tharp said:

"Community Hospital Anderson has an excellent team of physicians and providers who are equipped to care for our children through their primary care and pediatrics practices, allowing children to avoid hospitalizations. In doing so, we have continued to see a steep decline in our number of pediatric inpatients. This trend has been happening over several years and is not unique to our hospital, county, or state and has ultimately led us to make the decision to transition our pediatric unit, which was averaging only .4 patients per day, into additional beds for our adult medical surgical unit. Community continues to see increasing numbers on our adult medical surgical units where we often reach capacity.

Community will continue to have a pediatric hospitalist, pediatric trained nursing staff, and a pediatrician is on call 24 hours a day. We will also continue to provide the same pediatric surgical services. The level of care a pediatric patient needs will be determined between the emergency physicians and pediatricians. In cases where children need to be transferred for inpatient care, our case management team will work with patients and families to try to help with resources they need."

OB services are not affected.

But Finney worries about kids who do need longer care and the cost of being sent to a hospital far from home.

Anderson's other hospital doesn't have a pediatric unit either.

"If they need to be admitted they'll actually be transferred to Indianapolis," Finney said. "We have a high poverty right here. First of all $500 bill for the transportation of the child, let alone a vehicle to get them (parents) back and forth too."

She says for struggling families, that's difficult.

"It's just, it's a sad day for Anderson. it really is."

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