Anderson hospital closes pediatric unit after ‘steep decline’ in patient numbers

Pediatric unit closes

ANDERSON, Ind. (WISH) — The pediatric unit at Community Hospital Anderson closed Monday following years of declining inpatient numbers, hospital officials said.

On average, the pediatric unit saw 0.4 patients per day, according to a statement issued by hospital CEO and president Beth Tharp.

“This trend has been happening over several years and is not unique to our hospital, county or state,” she said. “[It] has ultimately led us to make the decision to transition our pediatric unit… into additional beds for our adult medical surgical unit. Community continues to see increasing numbers on our adult medical surgical units where we often reach capacity.”

The hospital will continue to employ a pediatric hospitalist, pediatric-trained nursing staff and on-call pediatricians, and will continue providing pediatric surgical services.

Obstetric services are not affected by the pediatric unit closure.

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Eight staff members worked in the pediatric unit, including five full-time employees. One retired; seven were offered other opportunities at Community Hospital Anderson or Community Health Network, according to hospital representatives.

Ronna Keffer, an Alexandria resident expecting her fourth child, was unfazed by the closure.

She had been reluctant to bring her children to Community Hospital Anderson when the pediatric unit was open, she said, adding she wasn’t surprised by dwindling patient numbers.

“I just feel like rural hospitals don’t get the same caliber of physicians willing to come here,” Keffer told News 8. “I would not feel comfortable with my new baby, if something happened, bringing her here. I would definitely just go to Indianapolis right away.”

Her family lives more than an hour from Indianapolis and approximately 15 minutes from Community Hospital Anderson.

Hospital officials declined interview requests from News 8.