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Baltimore's MedStar Franklin Square hospital closing some pediatric services

MedStar Health said Wednesday that it is eliminating much of the pediatric services it offers at its Franklin Square Medical Center amid a decline in patients.

Pediatric admissions to the east Baltimore County hospital have declined 40 percent in the past five years, MedStar said in a statement. Statewide they have declined 23 percent.

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The hospital is closing its pediatric inpatient unit and emergency room as part of the downsizing. Children with urgent medical needs still can be seen in the main emergency room, said hospital spokeswoman Debra Schindler.

The hospital will still do outpatient pediatric surgeries. Those needing inpatient treatment will be transferred to other facilities.

Twenty full-time staff, including eight doctors, will be impacted, said hospital spokeswoman Debra Schindler. Some will get positions at Franklin Square or other MedStar hospitals; some will lose their jobs, although Schindler did not say how many.

The hospital's chair of pediatrics, Scott Krugman, will lose his position under the restructuring. Krugman is a well-known pediatrician who is past president of the Maryland chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics. He was named by the group as pediatrician of the year in 2015.

Krugman declined to talk about the shakeup at the hospital.

The changes at Franklin Square come as hospitals in Maryland have been working to push more treatment out of the hospital into less expensive care elsewhere to help reduce health care spending. It's part of the state's global budgeting for hospitals, which sets fixed rates for all payers for the same procedures.

MedStar noted that many patients are getting care at urgent care sites, such as MedStar PromptCare, or ambulatory care centers.

"There is a transformation taking place in our healthcare system nationally and locally, which translates into patients seeking treatment in lower cost, non-hospital settings," MedStar said in a statement. "This includes our pediatric patients as well."

Franklin Square will continue to invest in other areas.

It plans to build a new surgical pavilion to replace outdated, undersized operating rooms, which have been at the hospital an average of 35 years. The state of Maryland gave Baltimore County a $500,000 grant to help the hospital pay for demolition of old facilities.

Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this story.

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