Children’s Advocates Want Pediatric Unit Kept Open

Local children’s advocates are calling on the Harris County Hospital District to
keep the pediatric care unit at Ben Taub Hospital open. This comes amid reports
that Ben Taub doesn’t have enough beds for the rising numbers of adults showing
up in its emergency rooms. Jim Bell has more.

Hospital District officials say Ben Taub just needs more adult beds, and they’re looking at taking them from the hospital’s pediatric unit, which has 30 beds and is less than half full most of the time. That has children’s advocates worried.  Dr. Robert Sanborn of Children at Risk says 20 percent of Harris County’s one million children are uninsured and most depend on Ben Taub Hospital for their care.  Sanborn says closing the Pediatric Unit would be wrong.

“We know that Ben Taub provides excellent service for those children, and a decision to possibly close down this pediatric unit is not a good decision, and we’re encouraging the hospital district board to not even consider this decision, to say this is the wrong thing to do.”

Dr. Anna Malinow of Doctors For Change says reducing service in one area to increase service in another would be like robbing Peter to pay Paul.  It makes no financial sense, and she called on the Hospital District Board to keep the pediatrics unit open.

“At this point in time we do not need cutbacks. We need a stimulus package that will invest in the future of Harris County Hospital District and the children of Harris County.” 

Hospital District President David Lopez insists there are no plans to close the pediatric unit.

“We have considered identifying ways that we can provide that service more effectively, more efficiently, but this is not about eliminating services. It’s about trying to figure out a way to provide a way to provide that service more efficiently, more effectively.” 

A final decision on what will happen with the pediatric unit is at least a month away. 

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.