The partnership between Womack Army Medical Center and Cape Fear Valley Medical Center requiring Fort Bragg children who need a hospital stay to be sent off post for treatment continues to be a success.
Womack closed its pediatric inpatient ward last spring due to low demand for care and to realign the transformational changes directed in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.
"Our ward at Womack, on an average day, only had one to two patients," said Capt. Ann Schilling, M.D., medical director for both the newborn care unit and for inpatient pediatrics at WAMC. "Leadership felt that that was too low of a census. They worried that either me as a physician couldn't keep my skills in the peak, tip-top shape that they should be in, or that maybe our nurses couldn't keep their skills in the peak shape that they should be in to best take care of patients, so they wanted to collaborate."
In addition to maintaining quality of care, the change was needed since the NDAA directs collaboration between military and civilian centers as well as resource sharing.
"As a retired naval officer--and currently still working for the Navy at another facility, the camaraderie between Cape Fear and the Army is something long overdue," said Dr. Abhik Biswas, medical director of inpatient pediatrics at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.
Womack signed an agreement for Army providers to work at Cape Fear Valley on rotation in December.
The Womack physicians function as the inpatient ward attending while the CFV pediatric intensivists are the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit attending.
Womack physicians also provide teaching support for CFV's plethora of residents and students.
There are several Army pediatricians and family medicine doctors who participate in seven-day rotations.
"It's our job to have someone here from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. every day," Schilling said. "I come here about once a month, sometimes once every six weeks or so, depending on who is on the schedule, and then the rest of the time I'm at Womack."
Having Army doctors at CFV helps military families in the coordination of follow-on outpatient care after hospital discharge.
"The Womack attendings are able to expertly navigate the TRICARE system for these families," Biswas said. "This ensures timely and appropriate post-hospitalization care."
Womack still has several pediatric services.
"One place would be more convenient, but as long as we have a decent doctor, we'll go wherever we need to go," said Melinda Torrealba, whose daughter Eliana was born at Womack on May 7 and was being treated at Cape Fear Valley on June 13. "The nurses and doctors here have been amazing."
Womack still provides pediatric services like cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, adolescent medicine, developmental medicine, newborn nursery, newborn intensive care unit, and all the ancillary services like physical, speech, and occupational therapies.
Routine surgeries that don't require an overnight stay like tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies continue to take place at Womack too.