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Doctors and parents push for children’s hospital

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Pediatrician Dr. Melissa Nelson shares a tight bond with her little patients.

She provides TLC with a smile. There is one thing she wants to deliver more than anything, but can't; the ability to send her patients with special medical needs to a stand-alone children's hospital in Richmond.

Dr. Nelson, with Pediatric Associates of Richmond, says there has been much talk in Central Virginia about building an independent children's hospital, but no action.

"Central Virginia needs a hospital built just for children. Children deserve the best care we can give them. The best care would be if we consolidate pediatrics," says Dr. Nelson.

Nelson is working with pediatricians and parents to establish an independent children’s hospital built in Richmond.

Anne Maliff knows the inside of Virginia’s hospitals all too well. Her son Nate was diagnosed with a brain abnormality at eight months old. His hefty medical records sit in file cabinets across Virginia.

“I think so many people think we have one. The needs for children are different," says Maliff. “Until you’re in that situation they are adult hospitals with a pediatric department.”

Nate has had surgeries at St. Mary’s, Virginia Eye Institute and VCU Medical Center. While the major health systems in Richmond all have branches to help young patients Anne says a stand-alone facility with specialists under one roof is the answer.

Maliff says, "Parents are beginning to get involved. Parents want this. They haven’t understood it until now. Now there is some movement.”

Through PackKids, pediatricians are helping spread the word about the children's hospital void in Richmond.

Dr. Melissa Nelson is confident a hospital solely for her pint-sized patients will be built sooner rather than later.

Dr. Nelson, “I think what we have here is really good. But if we brought it together. We could go from here to here.”

Dr. Nelson says she believes VCU Medical Center should take the lead in seeing an independent children's hospital built.

Nelson says there are deep pocketed philanthropists in town ready to help build it. The biggest obstacle is changing the culture and getting all of the major health systems in Richmond on board with the initiative.