When Pediatricians Break Up

A friend gave me some surprising news a few weeks ago that was followed up by an official letter last week: our pediatrician’s office was breaking up. It was shocking because from the outside, the large, long-standing practice seemed to be thriving. A majority of Redwood City area moms I know use this pediatric practice, which I know because back in the days of having tiny babies, it’s a thing that comes up easily in conversation. There is much speculation as to why or what happened to cause the office to break apart, but that doesn’t change the fact that patients have been given a week to decide where we want to go. The office is getting a divorce and we must pick a side.

Our pediatrician is joining an established practice, while the current practice’s remaining doctors and staff are forming their own office. It should be an easy decision because we really like our doctor and could easy go with her, but there are complications. Our pediatrician has known the kids since birth and is always supportive and has always said the right things – even to me about parenting, breast feeding, and miscarriage – but she does have a reputation as a “drive-by doctor.” Our time with her is limited and appointments feel rushed. On the other hand, she knows her stuff. She’s seen it all before and she has the confidence of a veteran. But, we’ve dealt with some of the remaining doctors before during last minute visits and we’ve always had a good experience. One time we were the last appointment on a Saturday morning and the doctor we saw made us feel like she had nothing but time to get to the bottom of our problem.

As my husband reminded me, I deal with the office staff much more than our doctor, and the practice she’s joining has really poor reviews for having a mean staff. I recently had to call our pediatrician’s office while on a steamboat on the Mississippi, a process the person I spoke with made easy and humorous, all at once. It was also the staff that got me to pick our doctor in the first place. Our pediatrician doesn’t do pre-birth interviews (she was too busy with a thriving practice!) but I spent a long time talking to her staff and I loved them. They made me laugh, and they were understanding and reasonable, which makes the burden of getting to the doctor that much easier (I wish I could say the same about my general practitioner’s office). They’ve answered questions, they’ve advised me when to come in and when to stay home and wait it out, and they always treat me like an A+ student when I have my co-pay ready.
There are whispers that the remaining doctors will be adding evening urgent care hours, and while my kids have never needed urgent care, this is a huge plus.

I wish we could all sit down and talk it out. Why the break up? Why join this particular practice? Do you still love us? Can’t you stay together for the kids?

After giving it much thought, I’ve decided to go with the office staff instead of our doctor. We’ll pick a new doctor (the one we saw on that Saturday a long time ago) and start over. As much as I would have loved to stay with our old pediatrician, sometimes the best care comes from the front office.

And I would love to take them all out for drinks to find out what really went down.

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