Partnership Receives Authority’s Approval

WHEELING – A three-year-old partnership between Wheeling Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recently received final approval from the West Virginia Health Care Authority.

The partnership was forged in 2010 and allows pediatric specialists from UPMC’s Children’s Hospital to meet with children and their families at Wheeling Hospital and sometimes also perform surgery there. Pediatric subspecialties offered include cardiology, general and thoracic surgery, otolaryngology, neurology and hematology/ oncology services, gastroenterology, urology, pulmonary and orthopedic surgery.

Dr. Judy Romano, director of the Wheeling Hospital’s Center for Pediatrics, described the partnership as ”fantastic and wonderful,” noting it is a win-win for the hospitals and the community. She said by having the doctors travel to Wheeling, families don’t have to leave the Ohio Valley.

”Everyone benefits. … And parents don’t have to spend $4 a gallon on gas driving to Pittsburgh,” she said.

According to the authority, UPMC requested the certificate of need for the establishment of an outreach location at Wheeling Hospital to ”fulfill an unmet need for expert pediatric subspecialty care in the Wheeling community.”

Romano added Wheeling Hospital now is participating in a pilot project with UPMC called telederm, which involves sending pictures of children’s skin conditions, along with their medical history, to pediatric dermatologists at UPMC for consultation.

Romano said to date the project has been wonderful, as pediatric dermatologists are rare.

Marianne Kapinos, authority general counsel, said the certificate of need process for UPMC was actually prompted by someone at West Virginia University who called the authority and asked if UPMC needed one. WVU ultimately did not contest the certificate, she said.

”It was legally required and determined those were needed services,” Kapinos said, adding the process still was ”fairly routine.”

She noted no fine would be levied against UPMC for not going through the certificate process sooner.