AGH's pediatrics moves to Shands

The volume of pediatric business at AGH has not met expectations in terms of numbers.

Aaron Daye/Sun file photo
Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2008 at 11:40 p.m.

Shands HealthCare will relocate pediatric services at Shands AGH to Shands UF, CEO Tim Goldfarb has announced.

Shands AGH will return to its role as an adult hospital.

"We have decided to reconsolidate pediatrics back here (at Shands UF) and then shift more adult services over to AGH," Goldfarb said Friday.

He indicated that employees were notified of the change by e-mail Thursday evening.

Shands moved a substantial portion of its children's services into AGH in October 2006. The change represented a new phase in the life of the 367-bed community hospital, which opened its doors in 1928.

Goldfarb said that splitting pediatric services between locations at AGH and UF "was not the most effective way to utilize AGH as a community asset."

"This is not about closure of the hospital," he said. "Nobody is going to lose their job, and we're not talking about layoffs."

Rather, it is a matter of making the best use of the facilities, according to Goldfarb.

He said that he and Dr. Bruce Kone, dean of the College of Medicine, had been working on an alternative plan since last summer.

"We have come up with what we believe will be a better way," he said.

Clinical faculty members reported that they were exhausted by the increased demands on their time, according to Goldfarb.

Faculty had also suggested that residents in training found the split plan too demanding, "and that it could result in not getting as strong a group of residents in the future."

Under the plan, many pediatric medical services moved to AGH, but pediatric cardiology, general surgery, trauma, the bone marrow transplant unit and neurosurgery remained at UF.

Goldfarb added that the volume of pediatric business (at AGH) has never met expectations in terms of numbers. Estimates when the 82-bed children's hospital opened in AGH's west tower were that fewer than 4,000 of the hospital's anticipated 13,000 admissions a year would be pediatric cases.

"We've dedicated a lot of resources to the care of not many patients," he said.

A recent investigation into a series of fungal infections among pediatric cancer patients on one floor of AGH did not factor into the decision to relocate the pediatric services, according to Goldfarb.

An outside consultant is now looking into Shands' findings that the source of the infections was not linked to the hospital surroundings or practices.

"I am confident the results will substantiate our conclusions, but we are going to close the loop on that."

The CEO declined to give details of planned changes that would return Shands AGH to its role as a community hospital offering adult services Friday, saying he would be meeting with the physicians and staff involved next week. He did not provide a timetable for the relocation.

Goldfarb indicated that, previously, there had been some concern among private physicians who admit patients to AGH that the hospital would become entirely a children's hospital.

"They were anxious that they would not have a home to practice in," he said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

Diane Chun can be reached at 352-374-5041 or

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