Pediatric Associates of Mt. Carmel
The pediatricians at Pediatric Associates of Mt. Carmel Associates in Cincinnati, Ohio, have an amiable partnership that gets them through tough times and makes work fun.
“We have a large group that gets along and likes each other,” says Dr. Lynn Peters, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician and practice partner at Mt. Carmel. “We always say we are one big, happy, dysfunctional family.”
Ten full-time physicians are joined by one part-time pediatrician in a total of three locations in suburban Cincinnati: Eastgate, Batavia and Mason. Nine of the full-time pediatricians see patients in all locations, while one full-time physician and one part-time physician staff the newest location in Mason. It was added in November of 2021 to replace a former office. With the owners looking towards retirement, they struck a deal with Mt. Carmel to preserve the practice’s independence.
“There’s been a trend in our area for practices to ask the large children’s hospital to buy them,” says Dr. Peters. “We feel like that’s not great and wanted to [help them] stay independent.”
Now that the Mason office is up and running, the satellites allow Pediatric Associates of Mt. Carmel to accommodate patients across the greater Cincinnati area.
“We’ve had this model with the office and the two satellites to increase our geographic reach so we can go to the eastern counties through our Batavia office, which is about 10 miles or so from the Eastgate office,” she says. “And now we can branch over into the northwest side of Cincinnati with the newest office.”
Although patients may visit any location – and most choose one as their primary doctor’s office – odds are every family will visit the Eastgate location on occasion for its convenient hours.
“We’re an open practice so they can see any doctor they want at any location that they want,” she says. “So, some people will say ‘I need a checkup on Thursday’ and go with any available doctor, while some people will go wherever their favorite doctor is. And then I would say most every patient probably comes to the Eastgate office at some point, because we do have evening hours there and Saturday hours there.”
Pediatric Associates of Mt. Carmel was recently able to add a triple board-certified child psychiatrist to staff, seeing patients at the Mason and Eastgate locations. As the practice expands its reach, they also want to fill needs in the community.
“It has been an overall goal for us to incorporate mental health because it’s still difficult for patients to get family counseling,” says Dr. Peters.
A mental health therapist who is a licensed independent social worker provides counseling services at the Eastgate office. Another counselor recently joined the team, allowing the practice to expand counseling service to the satellite locations in the fall.
As they think about expanding and adding staff, the Ohio group’s size allows them to be nimble with their decisions. The nine full-time pediatricians are all partners in the practice – small enough to come to consensus, but large enough to cover each other’s vacations and staff three locations.
“We meet once a week,” she says. “That helps with communication and keeping things running.”
This management model has allowed them to seize on opportunities as they come. For example, the practice’s child psychiatrist worked with Mt. Carmel “on and off” for four years while she completed her training. Once it became clear that she would be a good fit for the group, they were able to move quickly to offer her a position when the time came.
“The thought was we’ll see if this works — works for her, works for us,” says Dr. Peters. “And we’re very happy we came to a mutual yes.”
Bringing in residents and medical students for training is central to the mission of Pediatric Associates of Mt. Carmel and has been since the practice’s founding in 1972. The group’s size allows for the flexibility to take on a range of trainees, from medical students and residents at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to fellows in various specialties. Since Dr. Peters has a doctorate in osteopathic medicine, she takes on students working towards this degree.
“I’ve taken medical students, they’ll be with you for a month,” says Dr. Peters. “For the last couple of years, we’ve had a sports medicine fellow; we’ll have them for the year. We learn from them. They hopefully learn from us.”
Looking ahead, the practice’s partners expect to continue to prioritize providing mental health services to patients. They also want to increase their visibility in the community to continue to expand the number of families coming through the doors. Currently, the practice has roughly 12,000 active patients for all locations.
“We work with a marketing company on social media to get the word out about what we offer in terms of evening hours and Saturday hours and the range of services we provide,” says Dr. Peters.
As they put in motion plans to bring in more patients, they’re also expanding the age range of patients they see. Instead of ending visits with patients once they graduate high school, they are allowed to continue with Mt. Carmel until the age of 21 through the adult patient program. Parents can work with their kids to help them set up appointments and begin to take charge of their health, making it more of a smooth transition to adulthood.
“Up to 21 seemed reasonable,” she says. “We’ve had a really good response where families are happy as this helps [kids] take responsibility with their medical care.”
Above all, Dr. Peters says a top priority is maintaining the group’s independence.
“In this community, having a large group of independent offices, we feel like it serves the community better,” she says. “You can be much more nimble and serve your patients a little bit better than you can in a large institution.”
The COVID-19 pandemic showed just how important it is to be able to come together and make decisions quickly for the good of patients and families. Dr. Peters says the group was able to adapt to make sure protocols were in place so that families felt comfortable coming into the office for the care they needed – whether it was for illness or preventive health visits.
“We were able to make changes very quickly,” she says. “We didn’t have to wait for three levels of administration and higher ups to sign on. We changed what we do so much over the course of this past couple of years.”
Members of the “dysfunctional family” at Pediatric Associates of Mt. Carmel continue to show up for each other every day, making their practice a ‘go-to’ for families in the Cincinnati region. That family also makes coming to work fun for the pediatricians and staff, says Dr. Peters.
“I like that collaborative environment, which is of course easier done with a larger group,” she says. “It’s so nice to have all of the different perspectives.”
It’s those diverse viewpoints and opportunities for collaboration that energize the pediatricians at Pediatric Associates of Mt. Carmel and Memphis Children’s Clinic. In larger practices that function well, it can be the best of both worlds: They combine the benefits of a team and the flexibility that an independent practice provides, all in service to excellent patient care.