Doctors want a full-service children hospital in Richmond

Posted at 6:43 PM, Oct 15, 2012

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- Richmond pediatricians are voicing their concern over the lack of free standing pediatric hospitals in Virginia.

"The children of central Virginia deserve a children's hospital," Dr. Melissa Nelson, a Richmond pediatrician," said.

Dr. Nelson is one of several physicians who have signed a petition to get a free standing, full service children's hospital in the Richmond area.

Presently, there is only one such hospital designated to taking care of children in the entire Commonwealth. That is the Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk. 

"I have families that have their children taken care of at three different hospitals in town with multiple different satellite locations. People have to quit their job just to drive," Dr. Nelson said.

Over 200 physicians have joined in Nelson's efforts by joining PacKids. A non-profit organization with the sole purpose of creating a hospital in central Virginia. 

Some of the challenges created by not having a hospital dedicated solely to children include confusion among parents as to where to go and frequent travel around Virginia by doctors and parents, Nelson said. 

"Everyday I'm forced with the challenge of navigating our health care system for children here in central Virginia," Nelson said.

Some of the obstacles include money. PacKids estimates it would cost $500 million dollars to build such a facility. Additionally, the new facility dedicated to children's care would require hospitals that currently have pediatric units to forfeit their patients and profits.

"To have a large children's hospital like we want people have to give up things," Dr. Mark Shreve, a pediatrician with more than 25 years of experience said.

"We have agreements cooking, nothing in writing, we're optimistic things can be signed on the bottom line," Dr. Shreve said.

Governor Bob McDonnell told CBS 6 Monday that this is the first time he's heard about a complaint within the medical community regarding a lack of free standing pediatric hospitals in Virginia.

"I look forward to hearing more about that - seeing some of the studies done by medical experts - and if there is a role for the state to play in meeting the healthcare needs of the region we'd do it," Governor McDonnell said.