WHEELING — For years, families in this region with children requiring sub-specialty care regularly had to travel to children’s hospitals in Pittsburgh or Columbus for treatment. But now, with Wheeling Hospital being part of WVU Medicine and its WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital, that deeper level of care can be found closer to home.
For Amy Bush, chief operating officer at WVU Medicine Children’s, that means specialized care and follow-up care for young residents in the Northern Panhandle and Upper Ohio Valley.
“First of all, it’s our privilege to bring sub-specialty care to the Northern Panhandle and Upper Ohio Valley area,” Bush said, noting WVU Medicine Children’s opened its first clinics last year at Wheeling Hospital, bringing to the area a level of care “that people previously thought they had to leave the state for.”
“We also brought maternal fetal medicine to the Northern Panhandle, and we also are collaborative partners to care for the patients in the nursery at Wheeling Hospital. So not only are we providing services through the clinics, but we also are assisting from an in-patient perspective with the hospital’s newborns, and that helps to keep babies there and families closer together.”
The clinics at Wheeling Hospital are only one part of the overall wellness and treatment plan local youngsters will have access to through WVU Medicine Children’s.
At the local clinics, families and their children have access to a growing number of specialized services. The WVU Medicine Children’s Wheeling clinic has two nurse practitioners on staff, and those clinicians work directly with specialists at WVU Medicine Children’s to deliver patient care.
That can include in person clinic visits with specialists or depending on the individual care needs, patients at the clinic in Wheeling will see specialists in Morgantown remotely, known as telemedicine. That helps keep families closer to home, Bush said.
“So while we say telemedicine, families can bring their children in (to the Wheeling clinic) and they’ll telemedicine back to a sub-specialist at WVU Medicine Children’s in Morgantown, and they also have the expertise of a nurse practitioner on-site in Wheeling. This helps families have quicker access to care and possibly not to have to travel,” she said. We try really hard to tailor our services to each patient’s healthcare needs.
Services that are offered at WVU Medicine Children’s Wheeling clinic include:
— Adolescent medicine
— General surgery
— Maternal-Fetal medicine
Bush also noted that if, during an admission to Wheeling Hospital, the pediatric or maternal patient needs additional specialized care, the patient can quickly be transported by the WVU Medicine Children’s Critical Care Transport Team to WVU Medicine Children’s in Morgantown.
In Morgantown, WVU Medicine is building a new, free-leaning WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital, which will be located on the WVU Medicine campus. Bush said if you’re at Milan Puskar Stadium and looking at the hospital complex, the new children’s hospital would be located on the east side of the J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital complex.
The new Children’s Hospital, once complete, will connect directly to the adult hospital on the medical campus. That has several advantages for families from across the state that have to travel there for medical care.
“With the hospital located on the Morgantown medical campus with connectors to the main academic hospital, if the maternal patient needs a higher level of care before or after delivery, they don’t have be transported by ambulance,” Bush said. “And after delivery, if the newborn needs a higher level of care, everything is within the Children’s Hospital. The family and providers don’t have to travel across town. It makes for an integrated level of care.”
“That’s very unique, to be able to have all those services together, to have both adult and child medical expertise on the same campus. That’s really the excitement and the vision shared by our board, leadership team, faculty, staff, our campaign council, the community, donors, alumni and the late Dr. Bill Neal … everyone is supportive and we’re extremely appreciative. The opportunity to build a Children’s Hospital, where the entire environment will be geared toward as comfortable an experience as possible for children of all ages, expectant mothers, and their families, is a tremendous privilege and responsibility.”
Once complete, WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital will feature 150 beds and will have a spa-like Birthing Center, a pediatric ICU, neonatal ICU, pediatric acute care unit and a dedicated children’s emergency department.
Among the specialties offered at WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital, Bush said there are several programs that help it stand out for increased care options for Northern Panhandle residents. “A differentiator for us in West Virginia is our cardiac surgery program, and our epilepsy monitoring unit through our neurology/neurosurgery program. Also, the ICU level of care we provide through our neonatal ICU and our pediatric ICU are hallmarks of our service,” she said.
Bush also said she hopes local pediatricians see WVU Medicine Children’s as an “accessible partner” in bettering patient care for all children in the region.
“Whether it’s a phone call for a consultation or a referral to Morgantown, our goal is to work with health care professionals in the region so we can expedite care of the highest quality for our patients,” she said. “We want to be their partners. It all starts with the local pediatricians as the main caretakers for the kids, and we appreciate their trust in us to provide sub-specialty care to their patients.”