2012-06-20 / Front Page

Hospital looks for solution to labor and delivery dilemma



Rumors about the future of labor and delivery services at Burke Medical Center are rampant.

And more questions have been raised since a petition began circulating in Waynesboro stating that OB/GYN services are in danger of being discontinued and officials need to be convinced otherwise.

However, new administrator Stephen Shepherd tells The True Citizen he not only wants labor and delivery services to continue at the hospital, he wants to see them grow.

After seeing the petition, he said he gladly added his name to it.

He said concern about labor and delivery has developed because at the month’s end, the hospital will no longer have a pediatrician on staff. Waynesboro’s lone pediatrician, Dr. Shelley Griffin, is set to retire from the hospital’s medical staff July 2, though he will continue his private practice.  

Without a pediatrician, the hospital has no one to provide care for the 25-30 babies that are born there each month on average.

“Our problem is we lose our pediatrician next week. When we do, we fall below the standard of care,” he said, explaining that the hospital’s insurance company has said the risk of delivering babies without a pediatrician on staff is too high. “We have to solve the pediatrician problem. I am recruiting pediatricians and working to get someone here.”

Shepherd’s worried because this won’t likely happen before July 1.

However, he’s working on a long-term solution; an option he said could bring more births and prestige to Burke Medical Center.

He’s proposed an agreement with Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center (formerly MCG) to base their residency programs in obstetrics and pediatrics in Waynesboro. This agreement would be attractive to GHSU because there are currently more babies birthed at this hospital, about 300 per year, than there are at GHSU. Shepherd said his hopes are that local doctors could be named as members of the GHSU faculty and placed as the heads of those residency programs.

“We would still provide the service in the community and we’d elevate our prestige,” Shepherd said, noting that GHSU would staff those units here and use Burke Medical as a clinical site for obstetrics and pediatrics.

“I am not trying to shut the OB program down,” Shepherd stressed. “I am trying to find a way to make it much better than it ever has been. But to do it, I have to have a pediatrician. I either have to recruit a pediatrician or have MCG provide the pediatricians.”

But until such an agreement could be worked out, Burke Medical would still need a pediatrician on staff to continue delivering babies.

“I will work on this every day until July first and try to find a solution,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd concluded that the best way to aid the future of labor and delivery at the hospital would be to write letters of support to GHSU officials, asking them to pursue an agreement with Burke Medical for their obstetrics and pediatrics residency programs.


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