Baptist to Move Some Services

Baptist Medical Center has already announced many of the changes that they have in store for the city of Montgomery in an effort to minimize the duplication of services and maximize the availability of health care needs. But, not all of the physicians are happy with the plans.

When Dr. Jeffery Seitzinger isn't performing surgery or seeing patients, he and his wife enjoy reading about, watching and discussing birds. But these days it's a different flock that Seitzinger has on his mind.

Patients who will loose some of their health care options from Baptist East to Baptist South. Baptist has announced that they plan to remove all services except for women's, children's and urgent care from the east center.

Dr. Jeffery Seitzinger: "I think it's clearly two issues. One is an issue of patient choice, and the other is an issue of patient safety."

Choice deals with location. Clearly the population of Montgomery is moving east. And Seitzinger says he's had patients tell him they prefer the east location because it's close to home and family. The other issue of safety also deals with local. Let's say Seitzinger performs surgery during the morning at the facility on the boulevard and travels back to his office at the east center. But later in the day a patient develops complications from that surgery. It may take Seitzinger 30 minutes to drive back to the south location. Granted there would be other physicians on duty, but not the surgeon who had performed the procedure.

"I don't feel that this is a safe situation for the patients. If there's an emergency at south and I have to travel there. The patient could literally be long dead before I could get there,"says Seitzinger. Seitzinger is also concerned about removing the emergency room on that side of town. Seitzinger isn't alone in his concerns. Other doctors are also worried, but wouldn't appear on camera.

For their part, Baptist says the changes won't happen overnight. And they're also concerned about safety and choice. Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jody Pigg says, "Added to that list needs to be the financial constraints of services that we can afford to offer and distribute throughout our service area. Those three don't necessarily have to be mutually exclusive or contradictory, but they have to be balanced."

Pigg says the financial implications for Baptist and all health care facilities forces them to look at distribution of those services without violating the choice and the accessibility. He says they are in the beginning stages of the planning stages. They will also look at possible construction goals for the long and short term.

Pigg says it's to early to tell what, if any, additional services will be offered at Baptist East. If a wreck occurs in front of the east hospital in 10 years, where will the patients go? Pigg says east for the next 3 to 5 years, but it would be premature to give an answer to that question now.