UofL pediatricians make changes to improve care for community’s children

The University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics is reorganizing its general pediatrics division, positioning itself to respond better to the needs of the community’s children and to the changing health care enrivonment.

The division provides primary care services to children in Louisville and Campbellsville, Ky., and helps train students and residents in medicine, nursing, dentistry, psychology and social work.. In 2013, its 22 pediatricians were responsible for more than 22,000 patients. Approximately 12 percent of the children in metro Louisville sees a UofL pediatrician as their primary care provider.

“Health care reform has placed a greater emphasis on primary care, where providers can promote health and safety,” said Gerard Rabalais, M.D., MHA, chair of the UofL Department of Pediatrics. “Pediatric programs like ours may be the best place to achieve success with health care reform since we have the ‘longest runway’ to influence attitudes about prevention and healthy lifestyle.”

A number of changes are planned for the coming months.

Consolidating offices, redeploying physicians

The department created a single, expanded practice site in Downtown Louisville, moving the office formerly located on Broadway at Floyd Street a few blocks north  of the Children & Youth Project (C&Y) at 555 S. Floyd St.

C&Y will offer 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 on-site 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.

Patients may see a UofL pediatrician at C&Y or one of the department’s other general pediatrics practices: the Stonestreet location at 9702 Stonestreet Road; or the Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre at 982 Eastern Parkway.

Families who want a Spanish-speaking provider will have three office locations to choose from in Downtown Louisville, Germantown and South Louisville.

“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. “Increasingly, we want to be able to say, ‘Our pediatricians are coming to a neighborhood near you.’”

Adding pediatric practices

This summer, the UofL Department of Pediatrics will partner with an East Louisville pediatric practice, bringing the number of general pediatricians and nurse practitioners in the department to 36.

The department will also expand its Campbellsville, Ky., practice – located at 73 Kingswood Dr. – later this summer, partnering with Taylor Regional Hospital to open a satellite office in Columbia, Ky.

Plans also are 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 or the buying power and advantage in contract negotiations that 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 additional learning opportunities for trainees

The department’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 health care landscape.

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