Several pediatricians say they are cutting the cord with what is currently the largest hospital in the Utica Rome region.

Effective July 1, 2016, they will no longer have privileges at local hospitals comprising the Mohawk Valley Health System with the exception of neonatology services at St. Luke's Memorial Hospital in Utica.

In a letter to parents of patients, doctors at New Hartford-based Utica Pediatrics say, "Utica Pediatrics, Sauquoit Valley Pediatrics and Slocum Dickson Medical Group Pediatrics will not be admitting patients to any of the hospitals of the Mohawk Valley Health System nor seeing newborns in their nursery."

Letter from Utica Pediatrics dated May 24, 2016

The complete text of the letter reads as follows:

"Dear Parents,

We as your Pediatricians (sic) at Utica Pediatrics have always taken our after-hours call responsibilities seriously.  Your children may be ill at any hour of the day, and as parents, you may have questions and concerns.  Our concept of creating a practice caring for our patients has always kept this in mind.  We have been fortunate to, and will continue to, share our call responsibilities with Sauquoit Valley Pediatrics and Slocum Dickson Medical Group Pediatrics.  Both of these groups share that same philosophy.

Faced with the evolution of healthcare (it is not just happening in pediatrics) in smaller communities, we, the primary provider of your children's healthcare, have made a difficult decision.  As of July 1, 2016, we, as well as our call coverage group, will no longer have privileges at the local hospital system.  Utica Pediatrics, Sauquoit Valley Pediatrics and Slocum Dickson Medical Group Pediatrics will not be admitting patients to any of the hospitals of the Mohawk Valley Health System nor seeing newborns in their nursery.  We will still be available for office hour visits, after-hours calls and weekend/holiday calls (as will our call coverage group).  For seriously ill children that require face-to-face assessment or may need possible admission we will be directing you to Golisano Children's Hospital at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.  Newborn care will be available through the very capable neonatology service at St. Luke's campus.  If you and your child do seek care at a local hospital there will be a hospital-employed pediatrician available if needed.

We arrived at this decision after much deliberation and after many years of great thought and discussion.  This is a major change in our approach to the care of your children.  However, we believe that this approach, while inconvenient for some, will lead to a more complete pediatric care for your child.  We have met with the physicians and administration at Upstate and they are excited and agreeable to this approach.  Our practice will now be affiliated with our Regional Pediatric Center. 

We remain in your service.

(Signed by Dawn Bard, M.D.; Karen Griffith, D.O.; and Jonathan Henderson, M.D.)"

While no spokesperson for the Sauquoit or Slocum Dickson pediatric offices was immediately available for comment, a representative was able to confirm that a similar letter was sent to parents of patients at Sauquoit Valley Pediatrics on Monday, May 23, 2016.

Erin Gigliotti, spokesperson for the Mohawk Valley Health System, told WIBX, "We have the staff and capabilities to see the pediatric population and newborns at both hospitals," referring to St. Elizabeth Medical Center and St. Luke's Memorial Hospital, two of the three hospitals - along with the Faxton facility - that comprise the Mohawk Valley Health System.  [EDITOR's NOTE 05/26/2016 6:27am: Gigliotti has clarified this statement to say that pediatric patients are cared for at both Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Medical Center while newborns are cared for at the St. Luke's campus.]

This is a breaking story.  Check back for updates as more information develops.

UPDATE: 05/25/2016  9:08pm  This post has been updated to include the text of the letter sent by Sauquoit Valley Pediatrics.

The letter dated May 19, 2016 from Sauquoit Valley Pediatrics' Dr. Marc Ritter is almost identical to the letter sent by Utica Pediatrics.  It reads as follows:

"Dear Parents/Guardians,

As your Pediatrician at Sauquoit Valley Pediatrics, I have always taken my after-hours call responsibilities seriously.  Your children may be ill at any hour of the day, and as parents, you may have questions and concerns.  Our concept of creating a practice caring for my patients has always kept this in mind.  I have been fortunate to, and will continue to, share our call responsibilities with Utica Pediatrics and Slocum-Dickson Medical Group Pediatrics.  Both of these groups share that same philosophy.

Faced with evolution of healthcare (it is not just happening in pediatrics) in smaller communities, I, the primary provider of your children's healthcare, have made a difficult decision.  As of July 1, 2016, I, as well as our call coverage group, will no longer have privileges at the local hospital system.  Sauquoit Valley Pediatrics, Utica Pediatrics, and Slocum-Dickson Medical Group Pediatrics will not be admitting patients to any of the hospitals of the Mohawk Valley Health System nor seeing newborns in their nursery.  I will still be available for office hour visits, after-hours calls and weekend/holiday calls (as will my call coverage group).  For seriously ill children that require face-to-face assessment or may need possible admission I will be directing you to Golisano Children's Hospital at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.  Newborn care will be available through the very capable neonatology service at St. Luke's campus.  If you and your child do seek care at a local hospital there will be a hospital-employed pediatrician available if needed.

I arrived at this decision after much deliberation and after many years of great thought and discussion.  This is a major change in my approach to the care of your children. However, I believe that this approach, while inconvenient for some, will lead to a more complete pediatric care for your child.  I have met with the physicians and administration at Upstate and they are excited and agreeable to this approach.  My practice will now be affiliated with our Regional Pediatric Center. 

I remain in your service.

(Signed by Marc D. Ritter, M.D. (MDR/cap)"

Sauquoit Valley Pediatrics Letter dated May 19, 2016

[EDITOR'S NOTE: WIBX will discuss the impact of the pediatricians' decision on Thursday, May 26, 2016 during WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning.  Audio from that broadcast may be found in the Keeler Show Notes posted later on Thursday afternoon.]


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