26 pediatricians, specialists leave Mississippi hospital in 1 year

 Approximately 22 pediatricians and four specialists have left Jackson-based University of Mississippi Medical Center since July 2016, according to The Clarion-Ledger.

Between July 2013 and July 2017, an average of 11 physicians left UMMC's pediatric department each year. However, 10 physicians have resigned during the first three months of fiscal year 2017, which began July 1, the report states.

Omar Abdul-Rahman, MD, former professor of pediatrics and neurology and vice-chairman of pediatrics for faculty development at UPMC, told The Clarion-Ledger his departure is part of a mass exodus of physicians leaving UMMC in recent months. He said he chose to leave because of the hospital's poor leadership and budget cuts.

"I fully intended to spend my entire academic career at UMMC," Dr. Abdul-Rahman said. "To be perfectly honest, I think the things that have happened in the last couple years really come down to the leadership at the top … [the leadership] is not up to par with what our expectations were. A lot of people were very disappointed … I don't think [the departures are] done yet. I think there are more to come."

UMMC officials told the publication the departures during the last year and a half, comprising 13.6 percent of the department, is not an exodus. Rather, the decline is part of the normal "ebb and flow" at the hospital, according to the report.

Data provided to The Clarion-Ledger by UMMC indicated the hospital's pediatric department gained five physicians in 2016 and had not netted any faculty losses this fiscal year so far. LouAnn Woodward, MD, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the UMMC School of Medicine, told the publication the pediatric department has hired replacements to fill the vacant openings and created new positions, the report states.

In February, the hospital received a $35 million reduction in Medicaid funding. As a result, the administration cut each department's funding by 5 percent and required each department chairperson to make their own cuts to find savings during the last four months of fiscal year 2016. Dr. Abdul-Rahman said for the pediatrics department, the cuts came in the form of a 4 percent salary decrease for physicians between April and June, the report states.

In March, UMMC also revealed plans to lay off approximately 195 people to shore up finances.

A spokesperson for UMMC told Becker's Hospital Review the hospital did not have a comment on the issue.

Editor's note: This article was updated Oct. 6 to ammend Dr. Abdul-Rahman's former title. A previous version of this article referred to him as a former associate professor of pediatrics and neurology. He also served as vice-chairman of pediatrics for faculty development.

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