UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals and Community Medical Centers have signed a long-term agreement to significantly enhance and expand specialty medical care for children in Fresno. The agreement builds upon a 40-year collaboration on medical education in a region that has one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in the state.
This expanded partnership helps provide high-quality pediatric specialty services in the Central San Joaquin Valley by integrating UCSF’s academic strengths and expertise in perinatal, pediatric specialty care and pediatric critical care with the clinical expertise of Community in obstetrics, neonatology and pediatric primary care. The agreement aims to shorten waits to see pediatric specialists and reduce the need for children to leave the area for medical care.
“We’re bringing world-class care to the Central Valley,” said Dr. Stephen Wilson, chief medical officer at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. “It’s just not right that there are three to five times as many pediatric specialists for children in the Bay Area as there are here. Our goal is to ensure that children living in Fresno can benefit from the expertise of UCSF pediatric specialists right near home.”
The new agreement broadens the range of children’s services provided by UCSF pediatric residents in downtown Fresno. Specifically, UCSF will assist Community by:
- Leading the development of an inpatient pediatric intensive care unit.
- Participating in the design of an expanded inpatient pediatric medical/surgical unit. Expanding the outpatient pediatric specialty practices at Community Regional Medical Center’s downtown Fresno campus. Jointly recruiting additional subspecialty pediatric physicians to join the Fresno medical community as part of the UCSF Fresno faculty.
- Providing UCSF pediatric subspecialty physicians from the San Francisco and Oakland campuses whenever local recruitment is not possible.
- Collaborating in the care of unusually complicated pediatric cases, through real-time remote consultations and coordinated transfers to the world-renowned UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in either San Francisco or Oakland, when necessary.
- Implementing a telehealth service, allowing Fresno physicians access to around-the-clock video consultation with UCSF pediatric subspecialists.
- Growing and strengthening the UCSF Fresno medical education program, which trains one-third of the Central San Joaquin Valley’s physicians.
UCSF also will collaborate with Community Regional to design more child-friendly treatment areas at the downtown campus. “We will also be exploring the possibility of building a dedicated women’s and children’s facility on this downtown campus,” said Craig Wagoner, CEO of Community Regional.
Wagoner told a group of employees gathered to hear the news on Sept. 16, “What we embark on today will have generational impact…Clearly, this demonstrates UCSF’s commitment to the San Joaquin Valley, and it’s a key step toward more efficiently managing the health of entire families. Today is important for our children and our children’s children.”
The pediatric program at Community Regional, which saw 65,000 pediatric cases last year, will be affiliated with the nationally ranked UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland. Ken Jones, chief operations officer at UCSF Medical Center, said that UCSF would be looking for ways to network more effectively in other areas as well as pediatrics. “There have been conversations on cancer,” Jones said. “Cancer is another area we have a lot to contribute and a lot to learn from our Community partners.”
The clinical and research implications are huge for Valley residents, said Community Regional Neonatologist Anand Rajani. “We’ll have the ability to gather more data to help our patients with the help of a strong partner. I think there is incredible promise here,” he said. UCSF is the top medical school in the nation for research.
“This new, expanded affiliation between UCSF and CMC is a huge win for our region,” agreed Dr. Michael Peterson, interim associate dean of UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program. “UCSF Fresno has a history of working collaboratively with several hospitals in the region to train the next generation of physicians. With an undersupply of specialists for our growing population, this collaboration will help boost our training and recruiting efforts to continue to bring top-notch physicians to our region.”
UCSF School of Medicine, which consistently is ranked among the nation’s top medical schools, has for decades operated a graduate medical education program in collaboration with Community. Established in 1975, and now celebrating its 40th anniversary, the UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program plays a substantial role in providing healthcare services to residents of the San Joaquin Valley, and training medical professionals in the region.
About 300 UCSF medical residents and fellows currently train on Community Regional’s campus in 25 specialties. The downtown Fresno hospital is home to the region’s only comprehensive burn center and Level 1 trauma center and the largest high-risk pregnancy and birthing center. The hospital consistently ranks among the top four hospitals in California for delivering the most babies under 3 lbs. 5 oz. and many years has the most extremely low-weight babies.
Faculty and medical residents at UCSF Fresno engage in a broad spectrum of research addressing health issues pertinent to the Valley. Faculty and residents also care for the overwhelming majority of the region’s underserved populations at health care facilities like Community Regional.
Reported by Erin Kennedy. She can be reached at MedWatchToday@communitymedical.org