Summer 2008

UCSF Pediatrics Joins Forces with ValleyCare

Stephen Wilson, M.D., Ph.D.

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital has joined forces with ValleyCare Health System to broaden the array of health care services for women and children in the East Bay Tri-Valley region. Since January, six UCSF pediatric hospitalists and two UCSF neonatologists have been providing services at ValleyCare Medical Center in Pleasanton.

A UCSF-staffed multispecialty pediatric clinic opened at ValleyCare on June 2 and plans are in place to expand the ValleyCare neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) within the next two years.

"We have the desire to be involved in care outside of San Francisco because there are a lot of children who need our resources," says Stephen Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., UCSF pediatrician and hospitalist program director.

The Tri-Valley is a rapidly growing area popular with families with children. It is the only region in the Bay Area without an identified pediatric center. Many primary care physicians practice there, but for certain kinds of specialty care, families must travel to Oakland or San Francisco, increasing the cost and risk for the patients.

The UCSF hospitalists at ValleyCare, who work in 24-hour shifts, have four major roles: to provide care for all pediatric patients directly; attend all obstetric deliveries and, in the event of a complication, be involved in stabilizing and admitting the newborn to the nursery for ongoing care; cover the nursery after-hours; and provide consultative coverage in the emergency department for children with complex or high-acuity problems.

"Our doctors see this as an opportunity for exposure to a variety of different issues and to receive one-on-one patient interaction in a community setting," says Larkin Callaghan, UCSF program analyst and hospitalist recruiter.

The two UCSF neonatologists at ValleyCare are on hand every day during daytime hours, directing care in the nursery and providing dedicated call coverage after-hours. Their presence greatly improves the quality of care for newborns.

The physicians' presence should also help the nursery upgrade to a level III NICU as the delivery volume grows. ValleyCare recently received a grant for expansion of the nursery to accommodate additional beds.

The multispecialty clinic at ValleyCare, to be staffed by UCSF physicians, is scheduled to open this spring, and will offer pediatric subspecialties in neurology, gastroenterology pulmonology, endrocrinology and adolescent eating disorders. UCSF will also work with Pleasanton-based pediatric cardiologist Andrew Maxwell, M.D., to ensure ready patient access to cardiology care.

UCSF will also establish a prenatal diagnostic center (PDC) on the ValleyCare Pleasanton campus. The PDC will be equipped with the latest diagnostic technology to ensure that sophisticated prenatal care is readily available for women planning to deliver at ValleyCare.

"A multispecialty clinic is brand-new for this community," says Wilson. "Families will no longer have to leave the area for quality pediatric subspecialists."

Since not every pediatric subspecialty will be represented at ValleyCare, Wilson says that communication between physicians at UCSF, ValleyCare and the Tri-Valley community will be imperative. For example, patients who require intensive care, specialized surgical interventions or intense, multiday evaluations will require treatment at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

"Our hope is that community physicians will refer to both ValleyCare and UCSF, depending on the severity or complexity of the case," says Wilson.

Given the program's success, UCSF has begun discussions with ValleyCare and surrounding community practitioners about creating a third-year core pediatric rotation for UCSF medical students this fall.

For more information, contact Stephen Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., at (415) 353-2082 or see UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital at ValleyCare.

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