TAMPA — Two of the biggest names in Tampa Bay medicine have joined to provide broader access to high-quality pediatric care in Hillsborough and Pasco counties.
Starting Tuesday, Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg will provide access to its pediatric programs at Florida Hospital Tampa. Those programs include specialty care in cardiology, critical care, hematology, oncology and hospital medicine.
In addition, All Children's Johns Hopkins will coordinate pediatric care at other Florida Hospital locations including Tampa, Carrollwood, North Pinellas, Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills. The emergency rooms at those locations have adopted clinical protocols from John's Hopkins All Children's standards of care.
All Children's physicians with expertise in more than a dozen specialities including craniofacial surgery and urology will serve rotations at Florida Hospital Tampa. Some of the most critically ill and injured patients might have to be treated in St. Petersburg, hospital officials said.
The move is "about two organizations getting together for a greater purpose," Mike Schultz, president and chief executive officer of Florida Hospital's West Florida Region, told a crowd gathered Monday at Florida Hospital's Tampa campus to celebrate the announcement.
"When we looked for a strategic partner, we didn't have to look very far," Schultz said. "All Children's Johns Hopkins is consistently ranked as a top children's hospital in the country. … Gone is the time when we just duplicate services just for duplicating purposes."
The collaboration expands the presence of the internationally known Johns Hopkins Medicine in the Tampa Bay area. All Children's, a 259-bed teaching hospital in downtown St. Petersburg, joined the Johns Hopkins Health System in 2011, the first U.S. hospital outside the system's Baltimore area base to do so.
The partnership announced Tuesday, which the two hospitals are calling an "exclusive affiliation," builds on an existing collaboration in the areas of neonatology and surgery.
It's good news for parents who find themselves in Florida Hospital emergency rooms or who need other pediatric care, said Jay Wolfson, a professor of medicine and public health at the University of South Florida.
"This is Johns Hopkins saying, 'These are the protocols that we have developed that have proven to be the most effective, most efficient and highest quality, they are going to be used in those hospitals, and we're going to make sure they're used because our reputation is on the line,'" Wolfson said.
The partnership allows Johns Hopkins All Children's to treat sick children without geography getting in the way, said Dr. Jonathan Ellen, the hospital's president, CEO and chief physician. Because the two hospitals have already been working together for years, they already have a sense of shared mission, he said.
"In the end, we all care about the children and families in our community," Ellen said. "Not duplicating services really speaks to the importance of teaming up to provide care to the families and children and not about what's mine and what's yours and what is distinct and what I can say is only mine."
The partnerships are a sign of how the nation's health care system is evolving in the age of the Affordable Care Act, said Wolfson, the USF professor.
President Obama's signature health care law encourages health care providers to link up and combine resources to produce better results for patients. The better the health outcomes, the more those providers will be reimbursed under the law.
That means the age of hospitals zealously guarding turf — often at great expense — by trying to do many things well on their own has come to an end, Wolfson said.
That's especially true in the area of pediatric care.
Providers that specialize in children's care, which requires specific equipment and training, tend to do a better job clinically and financially than other hospitals that offer pediatric services. And pediatric care, he noted, is not a major source of profit.
"In a pragmatic market where smart institutional providers will look to optimize rather than monopolize," Wolfson said, "this kind of special partnership makes economic and clinical sense."
After the announcement, officials gathered to cut a ribbon in front of Florida Hospital's new pediatric emergency department. The 10-room unit, which features a pirate ship theme, is part of an $18 million investment in pediatric services for Florida Hospital's Tampa campus.
The new children's in-patient and intensive care units are up and running in an expanded, renovated space. An expanded neonatal ICU will open in a few weeks.
Contact Tony Marrero at email@example.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.