Fewer than 30 miles separate the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del.’s Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. But they might as well be a world away for many suburbanites in need of pediatric specialty care on a regular—or even sporadic—basis. Accurate or not, that perception goes a long way in explaining why these two healthcare powerhouses now have branches in the Main Line area.
For Nemours, a partnership with Main Line Health through Bryn Mawr and Paoli hospitals has helped increase local visibility. In 2008, the well-established
children’s healthcare network further expanded its reach
to the Main Line Health Center in Newtown Square, where it operates an 8,000-square-foot outpatient facility with 13 exam rooms and about 1,000 patient visits per month. Cardiology, neurology and neurosurgery, dermatology, and sports medicine are among the 16 specialty-care areas available to kids and families.
“We wanted to take the care you can usually only get in a hospital into the suburbs,” says Chris Manning, senior manager of public and community relations for Nemours.
The center sees patients from 44 states and 15 countries annually, and orthopedic specialists like Dr. L. Reid Nichols have experienced the warm embrace from the community. “There’s no limit to what we see,” says Nichols. “The pediatricians in the area are so happy to know we’re here. There seems to be such a high need for specialty care on the Main Line.”
The Newtown Square center boasts audiology booths and a staff that works in conjunction with otolaryngologists. There’s also EKG and echocardiography equipment, plus on-site laboratory, imaging and rehabilitation services. The staff’s goal is to get patients into the exam room in five days or fewer, without the threat of being bumped should a more pressing medical emergency arise.
If doctors determine that inpatient treatment is necessary, the Nemours Kids Transport Program maintains a fleet of ambulances that operate as mobile intensive-care units, even taking patients from other licensed healthcare facilities to Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. And all patients’ digital
records—including images, exam notes and previous medical history—are as readily available in Newtown Square as they are in Wilmington.
Elsewhere on the Main Line, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia offers four outposts for pediatric specialty care in King of Prussia, Exton, Chadds Ford and Springfield. Services include an
imaging center in King of Prussia (the
largest freestanding pediatric radiology facility in the state) and Exton’s ambulatory surgery center, which offers indispensable expertise in a local setting.
“We’re looking to enlarge our outpatient network, and the Main Line is a big part of our plans,” says Dr. Steven M. Altschuler, CHOP’s CEO. “Wherever possible, we want to move care away from overnight hospital stays at our main campus. The goal is to have only the most seriously ill patients treated [there], and all others cared for near home.”
The King of Prussia location sees a large number of outpatient oncology patients. “The response we’ve received from being here is just fabulous,” says Dr. Julie Stern, who’s been with CHOP since 1996 and started practicing on the Main Line in 2004. “The ability to get state-of-the-art therapy without driving to the city is a huge bonus, and the familiarity we have here in a smaller atmosphere allows everyone to get to know the child.”
Among other things, providing oncology care closer to home means lengthy chemotherapy treatments, spinal taps and other blood work are performed in a setting that’s comfortable and fully equipped with lab and imaging services to measure the results as quickly as possible. A fully integrated digital medical-records system allows for smooth communication between the main hospital and its suburban branches. “We encourage families—especially siblings—to be with the patients on an occasional basis when they’re having a procedure done, so it still feels like a homey environment,” Stern says.
And one of the best things about her job? “The fact that I know my patients really well,” she says. “Having this kind of world-class care in the community is just priceless to me, and I take special pride in being able to offer it.”