Salem Hospital and Kaiser Permanente Celebrate Strong Partnership in the Pediatrics Unit

February 9, 2019

The partnership between the Mid-Valley pediatric team and Salem Hospital is the story of a robust collaboration — that almost perished.

Salem-based pediatrician Dr. Martin Altschul has been with NWP for 35 years.

In May 2012, facing financial challenges and low patient volume, Salem Hospital announced that its pediatric facility may have to close.

Before taking that drastic step, however, the hospital assembled stakeholders to see if there was another solution. During a series of meetings throughout the summer of 2012, Northwest Permanente and other community pediatricians came out in force to make a case for a continued, even improved, experience for Salem children who had to be hospitalized.

“We argued forcefully — but politely — to keep the pediatric unit open,” said pediatrician Alvaro Rey-Rosa, MD, Physician in Charge in Salem. “Not just because it would help Kaiser Permanente members but because it was right for our community.”

And it made a difference. By August 2012, Salem Hospital had changed course, and today there is a new, smaller wing of the hospital that houses the newborn nursery on one end and the 10-bed pediatric unit on the other.

This means that acutely ill children in the Salem community can stay in Salem and avoid having to be transported to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland — helping to ease what is already a stressful time for their families.

Dr. Michael Marlowe and Dr. Cynthia Yu Xu are pediatricians in Salem.

Furthermore, the partnership between Salem Health and Kaiser Permanente Northwest has blossomed over the last five years, strengthened by the mutual care for the children of the wider Salem community. KPNW pediatricians round at the hospital 365 days a year, and a pediatric hospitalist program launched in 2017 further cemented the success of the pediatric unit.

“When we round at the hospital, there is collaboration between NWP pediatricians and the Salem Health hospitalist that benefits everyone in the unit including patients, parents, and staff. There is exchange of ideas and discussion about treatment plans that can lead to better outcomes,” said Dr. Rey-Rosa.

Dr. Lisa Bisgard, NWP Regional Chief, Pediatrics, recently visited Salem and witnessed the fruits of this collaboration, which she calls “stellar.”

“It is clear that the Salem community has trust and confidence in the medicine we provide there,” she said. “This is something that should be celebrated and should make Northwest Permanente very proud. We have a group of excellent pediatricians representing NWP outside of the Portland metro area.”

“I am very proud of our pediatric group and our excellent reputation in Salem. As community members, parents and physicians, we have an obligation to make positive changes in our community and strive to treat our patients as we would want our children to be treated,” said Dr. Rey-Rosa.

Salem-based pediatricians, from left to right: Dr. Brian Gumbs , Dr. Lisa Rishel , Dr. Emma Germann, and Dr. Alvaro Rey-Rosa.

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