Pediatrics reorganizes primary care operation

The University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics has reorganized its general pediatrics division, positioning itself to respond better to the new health care marketplace and needs of the community’s children.

The division provides primary care services to children in Louisville and Campbellsville, Ky., and helps train many of the university’s student doctors, nurses, dentists, psychologists and social workers. In 2013, its 22 pediatricians were responsible for more than 22,000 patients. Approximately 12 percent of the total pediatric population in metro Louisville identifies a UofL pediatrician as their primary care provider.

“Healthcare reform has placed a greater emphasis on primary care, where providers can promote health and safety,” said Gerard Rabalais, M.D., MHA, chairman, University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics. “Pediatric programs like ours may be the best place to achieve success with healthcare reform since we are training the next generation of pediatric providers.”

Consolidating Offices, Redeploying Physicians

The department closed its office at Floyd St. and Broadway on July 1, creating a single, expanded downtown practice, the Children & Youth Project (C&Y), located a few blocks away. C&Y offers all of the services previously offered at the Broadway office and the expanded downtown clinic will serve as a medical home with a wider array of onsite ancillary services: social work; psychology; dental care; home health; speech therapy; WIC nutrition services; and legal counseling.

“This practice demonstrates the power of a university to bring multiple disciplines together to provide comprehensive health care for children,” Rabalais said.

“Consolidating these two offices and deploying our physicians to different locations lays the groundwork for increasing access and building partnerships in the communities we serve,” said Gil Liu, M.D., chief of the UofL general pediatrics division.

Adding Pediatric Practices

This summer, the department partnered with an east Louisville pediatrician Sheila Guelda, M.D.

Plans are also underway to provide general pediatric care in the West End of Louisville.

“We see these additions as opportunities to expand availability to patients and support community practitioners, who don’t have the resources to support multiple disciplines as we do,” Rabalais said.

Creating a Network

All of the Louisville pediatric practices will soon operate as a network. That means patients will have a medical home for routine visits as well as access to urgent care at any of the other Louisville general pediatric practices. The network also will enable families to access ancillary services headquartered at C&Y and specialty care by UofL pediatric specialists.

“We think an arrangement that offers “one stop shopping” for multiple health care providers will be good for all our patients,” Dr. Liu said.

Creating Learning Opportunities for Trainees

The division’s reorganization also ensures that residents, medical students and trainees from other programs will have places to learn primary care pediatrics. Historically, trainees have spent time in community pediatric practices but these practices may struggle to continue hosting students because of changes in the healthcare landscape.

“It is part of our educational mission to expand primary care opportunities,” Rabalais said.