The Visalia hospital will continue to staff the neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric beds with nurses, respiratory therapists and other providers, but Valley Children’s Medical Group is providing the doctors. And the medical group is adding neonatal nurse practitioners for the 15-bed unit that provides care for critically ill babies.
The partnership between Kaweah Delta and the medical group effectively ends a long-running arrangement between Kaweah Delta and Visalia-based Sequoia Pediatric Group for the care of babies and children.
At a Kaweah Delta Health Care District meeting on Jan. 26, the board of directors voted to make the neonatal intensive care unit a “closed” unit, giving neonatologists from Valley Children’s Medical Group exclusive privileges to take care of the babies.
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There will be a special board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Feb 16 at Sequoia Regional Cancer Center, 4945 W. Cypress Ave. in Visalia, for doctors who want to discuss the board’s decision to make the unit exclusive to doctors of Valley Children’s Medical Group. Doctors were given 30 days notice of the exclusive contract and have until Feb. 27 to discuss the issue with the board. (An earlier version of this story said doctors had 10 days to appeal the board’s decision.)
I don’t want to disrupt the care of patients, but the issue has to do with parent choice and physician rights.
Dr. Christine Nelson, pediatrician with Sequoia Pediatric Group
Dr. Christine Nelson, a pediatrician with Sequoia Pediatric Group, said she plans to appeal.
“I would like to talk to the board, and I know there are quite a few who do,” Nelson said. “I don’t want to disrupt the care of patients, but the issue has to do with parent choice and physician rights.”
Other pediatric services in the hospital remain open to practitioners not affiliated with Valley Children’s Medical Group, Hirsch said.
But the medical group will be directing the care. Dr. Marianne Anderson, a neonatologist who had been with Sequoia Pediatric Group, and Julianne Randolph, D.O., who has been a pediatric hospitalist at Kaweah, have been jointly selected by Kaweah Delta and Valley Children’s Medical Group to serve as medical directors of the intensive care unit and pediatric services. Anderson and Randolph now are members of Valley Children’s Medical Group.
The contract with Valley Children’s to provide neonatal and pediatric services at the Visalia hospital extends the presence of Valley Children’s Hospital in the South Valley. The medical group is affiliated with the Madera County-based hospital, which opened a pediatric clinic on Akers Street in Visalia in 2015.
Kaweah Delta officials said the partnership with Valley Children’s Medical Group will increase the number of neonatologists from two to three and will bring in four neonatal nurse practitioners to supplement coverage in the evenings and weekends.