…and guess who’s upset about it.

Wellmont announced yesterday that they will be expanding their children’s services by partnering the Knoxville-based East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Holston Valley Medical Center will now be offering access to doctors in the fields of pediatric endocrinology, pediatric gastroenterology, pediatric hematology, pediatric neurology, pediatric pulmonology, and pediatric surgery.

Fantastic! MSHA needs some good, old fashioned competition! Let’s see, what was that wretched experience I had with pediatrics at the Johnson City Medical Center? Oh, yes…my niece was involved in a serious car accident and, although she was ordered to ICU, there was no room for her and she was placed on a regular, adult floor. Brilliant. And MSHA has us covered when it comes to children’s services (dripping with sarcasm). I’m thrilled that we now have additional access to children’s specialties in the area! Maybe now when a child needs care, he/she will actually receive it.

But, true to form, MSHA has some anti-competition scare story as to why we don’t need children’s services from anyplace other than MSHA.

“This announcement by Wellmont seems to be an attempt to keep families from the local children’s hospital here in Johnson City while also pulling support from (East Tennessee State University’s) pediatric residency program,” said Lisa Smithgall, MSHA’s vice president of women’s and children’s services. (Johnson City Press)

Do what? Here’s a though, Ms. Smithgall…maybe this is actually an attempt to provide services to those who can’t seem to get their foot in the door at a MSHA hospital. Wellmont is far from perfect, but they are clearly taking advantage of a viable market – the group of people who have been unable to receive adequate care at a MSHA hospital because there isn’t enough room and those who are dissatisfied with the care at MSHA hospitals.

What Ms. Smithgall seems to fail to understand is that if MSHA hospitals are truly superior, then that’s where people will go. Although I live in Jonesborough, I will be giving birth at Sycamore Shoals (a good 40 minutes away), because the doctors and staff at that facility are better suited to my desired birthing experience. Wellmont hospitals, for the most part, have a significantly higher c-section rate than most MSHA hospitals, thus making me feel more comfortable at Sycamore Shoals (although not the Medical Center or Specialty Hospital, where doctors and staff practice what I like to call “cattle delivery”…)

Competition is good. Say it with me…”competition is good.” We will all receive better (and cheaper!) health care when the medical field decides to compete. With the little competition that we have in this area, be sure to be an informed consumer. Know your doctors, know your hospital – and be sure to only give your business to the ones that are willing and able to provide the best care for you.