Children's Hospital shifts direction Facility plans to focus on primary medicine

February 01, 1997|By M. William Salganik | M. William Salganik,SUN STAFF

Children's Hospital said yesterday it will make its first venture into primary care, adding three doctors who will include "complementary" techniques such as acupuncture.

Robert A. Chrzan, president and chief executive officer, said, "We believe primary medicine becomes the basis for a number of things you need to do," including a future focus on "wellness." Strong practices in family and internal medicine, he said, can lead to more specialist physicians seeking privileges at the hospital and to more referrals of patients, for both inpatient and outpatient care.

This represents another effort by the hospital to turn around financial problems. It posted operating losses in each of the last five years, dipping into its endowment at the rate of about $300,000 a year, and was one of only three acute-care hospitals in Maryland to lose money in 1995, the last year for which full data are available.

From its original mission of serving children with chronic diseases, it has become a specialty hospital providing orthopedics, rehabilitation and plastic surgery, largely to adults. To retain its identity but show its function has changed, it now calls itself the New Children's Hospital.

Three primary-care physicians -- Lee E. Gresser, Joseph V. Zebley III and Sam K. Sencil -- will be practicing in the hospital, although they probably will move into the medical office building on campus. Sencil is being trained in acupuncture.

Eventually, Chrzan said, he hopes to have 10 primary-care doctors.

While some hospitals have purchased primary-care practices or invested in doctor-owned primary-care groups, Chrzan said Children's was bringing in its primary-care doctors through contractual arrangements.

Emphasis on wellness fits in with the Bennett Institute, a sports medicine and rehabilitation facility on campus.

The hospital is licensed for 76 beds, but is staffed for fewer patients, and typically has only 10 to 15 inpatients at a time, Chrzan said.

Pub Date: 2/01/97

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