Connecticut Children’s is growing by leaps and bounds, and one of the biggest leaps is into Fairfield County. Despite Fairfield County being the most populous part of the state, Connecticut Children’s has had, until now, only a minor presence there. That’s all changing this year, as we open a new pediatric specialty care center in Danbury and expand our Care Alliance partnerships with area hospitals and pediatricians.
To learn more about this expansion and what it means for families in the southern part of the state, the Foundation spoke with Trisha Farmer, Vice President for Regional Partnerships & Operations, and Sarah Matney, Vice President for Ambulatory Operations.
Q&A on Fairfield County
Q: Why are we focusing on Fairfield County for our expansion?
Trisha Farmer: The birthrate in Connecticut is declining, but it is declining the least in Fairfield County. So, there are a lot of kids there. And right now, to get medical care for those kids, the families have to travel north or they go down into New York City or into the eastern New York area. Our strategic plan calls for growth, and our philosophy is to provide care for kids close to their home. We recognize that it’s difficult for those children and families not to have specialists in that area. So, our plan is to bring subspecialists to them, to provide care close to home.
And as we’re bringing new subspecialists on board, we’re hiring people who live in Fairfield County and are part of the community. Sometimes we’ll get questions from people in the community saying, “How are you going to get your doctors from Hartford to travel down here?” And the answer is, “We’re not. We’re hiring people who live there.”
Q: What subspecialties are we starting with in Fairfield County?
Trisha Farmer: Our current services are cardiology, hematology/oncology, gastroenterology, general surgery, infectious disease, nephrology and neurology. We will be adding pulmonary, endocrinology, sports medicine and orthopedics, rheumatology, urology, and imaging.
Sarah Matney: These conform to the patients’ needs. We’re responding to what they tell us they need for patient services.
Q: How did we choose the locations where we are providing these services?
Sarah Matney: Our new ambulatory center in Danbury offers great access to Interstate 84, and it’s a location that many patient families would be familiar with.
Trisha Farmer: And besides the new center in Danbury, we have other locations throughout Connecticut. We have Care Alliance with the former Western Connecticut Health Network, which is now part of Nuvance Health, which is a seven-hospital system. We have providers staffing their pediatric inpatient and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) beds at Danbury and Norwalk hospitals along with their newborn nursery beds.in both hospitals. So, overall, our presence is increasing as we look at where we need to put these providers. We’re delivering what they’re asking for.
Q: Are our specialists able to provide the same caliber of care that we provide at our other facilities?
Trisha Farmer: The providers are delivering the same quality of care wherever they are throughout our organization. Those providers are part of our specialty group and use the same protocols and clinical pathways. So, if I have a patient with asthma and that patient is admitted in Danbury, he will treated with the exact same asthma protocol as if he were admitted to the Hartford campus. This ensures seamless, high-quality care. Those providers report to the same Division Heads as providers in Hartford. For example, neonatologist Jeff Bartlett, MD, oversees the NICU in Danbury and Norwalk hospitals. He reports to James Moore, MD, PhD, who oversees all of our NICUs. Because of that connection, he attends faculty and educational meetings, he’s up to date with everything and does the same data-tracking. Everything is seamless.
Q: Many of our patient families refer to Connecticut Children’s as having a concierge approach to pediatric care. Can you describe how that works and how it is in the best interests of the kids we treat?
Sarah Matney: We always take a personal approach to medicine. The difference between Boston or New York and Connecticut Children’s is that your child is never going to be a record number or just a digit, No. 23 on the Operating Room list. We create a personal relationship with the patient and family while still providing world-class care. I think that’s a piece of who we are at Connecticut Children’s. You don’t find that in a lot of other places, and people say that again and again. For children who have to spend a lot of time here, we become like family, being there for every moment of each child’s life.
Trisha Farmer: We treat parents as the experts on their children. We might be the experts on care, but they are the experts on their child. I would never bring my children anyplace else. My son Daniel has been followed by Dr. Jeff Thomson in orthopedics for the past 5 years. The team is incredible and Daniel looks forward to his visits. There really is something special here. And I’m not just saying this because I work here. We have people here who really care about the kids and about their families.
Q: What is the plan for future expansion into Fairfield County?
Trisha Farmer: We continue to deepen our relationships with Nuvance Health. And from an ambulatory perspective, we’re still hearing from pediatricians and parents that there is a need for our services in other parts of Fairfield County. So we’ll continue to expand and add services as needed to meet the community needs.
We also started the first pediatric clinically integrated network in Connecticut called “Connecticut Children’s Care Network”. Pediatricians can join and participate; it is, in fact, pediatrician led. The network brings pediatricians in the community together with subspecialists and the only freestanding pediatric hospital in Connecticut. Together, we can address the entire child and family and improve the health of children in the region. For example, a pediatrician can have additional information about how to treat a child who comes in with recurrent headaches before they have to come to the hospital and see a specialist. And when they do need to see a specialist, we’re there for them.
To learn more about patient care at Connecticut Children’s, please visit the website.
If you are a parent and would like to request information about the best pediatric healthcare in Fairfield County, please contact Janeille Ervin at JErvin@connecticutchildrens.org.