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Published in CenterView on January 14, 2013

Outreach clinics help Batson Children’s Hospital specialists treat Hattiesburg-area children

By Jen Hospodor

Mississippi’s health challenges, including access to medical care, are well documented. The Pediatric Specialty Outreach Clinics, a cooperative new partnership between the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Hattiesburg Clinic, offer a way to meet that challenge.

After months of conversations and visits with the Hattiesburg medical community, Batson Children’s Hospital specialists in hematology-oncology, gastroenterology and neurology have begun seeing established patients and offering outpatient consultations in two separate Hattiesburg Clinic locations: the Children’s Clinic and the Pediatric Clinic.

Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chairman of Pediatrics, said it is the children of southern Mississippi who will ultimately benefit from this partnership.

CH of MS“The pediatric specialists of Children’s Healthcare of Mississippi and Batson Children’s Hospital are proud to offer their services to the children of the Hattiesburg and southern Mississippi regions,” Barr said. “Our mission is improving the health of all children in the state and that includes making specialty care more accessible for children who cannot easily travel to Jackson.”

According to Dr. John Purvis, medical co-director of pediatric ambulatory services who is overseeing the development of the outreach clinics, the clinics also offer a valuable chance for faculty members to foster relationships with Hattiesburg-area clinicians.

“Elbow-to-elbow contact with the primary care physicians and pediatricians in their established offices and clinics is going to be very helpful in providing better health care because of an improved flow of information between us and our referring physicians,” Purvis said.

“The goal is for them to be more comfortable picking up a phone and calling one of us directly and for us not to just be a name on paper.”

Before initial clinic visits, letters were sent to more than 300 physicians in a 10-county area near Hattiesburg, informing them of the partnership.

“Our approach is to be cooperative, not competitive,” Purvis said.

The approach seems to be working. Dr. Owen B. Evans, professor of neurology and former chair of pediatrics, is one of the specialists seeing patients in the outreach clinics. He said the collaboration of the area providers has been exceptional.

“It is an experience into reaching out to our referring physicians,” Evans said. “Hopefully, we will develop procedures that will enable us to expand this program to other areas of the state.”

And while Purvis echoes Evans’ hope that expanded services will follow, he noted that these specialties were chosen after much deliberation.

“We inquired with the Hattiesburg Clinic physicians first,” Purvis said. “We asked what they thought the community would benefit most from and then we looked at our depth in these specialties to see what we were able to send.”

Other outreach clinics on both the pediatric and adult side already exist in other specialties throughout the state, but Barr stated these clinics are the first concentrated regular clinics for pediatrics.

Similar clinics are being planned for locations in other parts of the state.