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For Immediate Release:
April 17, 2012

Southcoast announces change of pediatric services at Tobey

Inpatient pediatric care will be discontinued; Emergency pediatric services will be enhanced by Boston Children's Hospital collaboration

WAREHAM, Mass. — Southcoast Hospitals Group announced today that it has informed the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that it will discontinue inpatient pediatric services at Tobey Hospital, which averages less than one patient per week, as part of a plan to create an enhanced regional pediatric program.

Emergent pediatric care will continue to be provided at Tobey's Emergency Department. Beginning in late summer 2012 Boston Children's Hospital and its physicians will collaborate with local physicians to provide hospital-based pediatrics for Southcoast, including 24/7 telephone Emergency Department consultations at Tobey for emergent care.

As of August 1, 2012, inpatient pediatric patients will receive their care at the St. Luke's Hospital site. The decision to move pediatric inpatient services is primarily based on Tobey's low pediatric admission numbers. Tobey presently has six licensed pediatric beds, although most are not in service, and pediatric admissions to the hospital have been declining for years. In Fiscal Year 2011, there were only 42 inpatient pediatric admissions, resulting in 86 pediatric days of hospital care, which translates into an average of less than one pediatric admission per week. Based in large part on these extremely low numbers, Southcoast concluded that the continued operation of the inpatient pediatric unit at Tobey was not feasible.

As part of the notification to DPH, a public hearing will be held next month on the discontinuation of services plan and will then issue a finding on the issue within 15 days.

"Southcoast is committed to providing high-quality, cost effective pediatric care to patients and their families in this region. As part of our ongoing efforts to do so we had to determine the most effective way to allocate pediatric clinical resources," said Ellen Banach, Senior Vice President of Strategic Services, Southcoast Health System. "Our ambitious plans and the affiliation with Boston Children's Hospital ensure that South Coast children and their families will continue to have exceptional care locally."

The affiliation with Boston Children's Hospital, embraced by the region's pediatricians and primary care physicians, will bring state-of-the-art pediatric services to the region and complement Southcoast's efforts to ensure excellent family and patient-centered care in the community with some of the very best pediatric specialists in the U.S. Some of the enhanced services include:

  • Updating and enhancing Southcoast facilities where pediatric patients are seen, including the Pediatric and Family Centered Units as well as section of the Emergency Department at St. Luke's Hospital.

  • A Medical Director from Boston Children's Hospital will be onsite at St. Luke's Hospital with responsibility for medical oversight, development and coordination of Southcoast's hospital-based pediatric services.

  • Boston Children's Hospital will provide 24/7 onsite pediatric care at St. Luke's Hospital, working with local physicians in pediatrics, family medicine and emergency medicine and thereby, reducing the need for patients to travel to Boston for some services.

  • Pediatric emergency services will be assisted by Boston Children's Hospital physicians who will provide telephone consultative services to the Tobey and Charlton Memorial Emergency Departments as needed.

Southcoast physicians, including the region's pediatricians and family practitioners, along with experts from Boston Children's Hospital will continue to assess the needs for other pediatric specialty services.

Stephanie Poyant
Public Information Officer
Phone: 508-961-5280
Pager: 508-387-2532
Fax: 508-961-5876

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Southcoast Health System is a community based health delivery system with multiple access points, offering an integrated continuum of health services throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and East Bay, Rhode Island.

It includes the three hospitals that make up Southcoast Hospitals Group — Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford and Tobey Hospital in Wareham.

Southcoast provides advanced clinical services, such as open heart surgery, angioplasty and heart rhythm services, comprehensive cancer care, neurosurgery, weight loss surgery, orthopedic surgery, advanced imaging services and is the only provider of maternity services in the region.

Southcoast is a not-for-profit charitable organization that depends on the support of the community to provide services. More information is available online at Connect to Southcoast through social media at

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