10 Children's Hospital surgeons resign, worrying parents of patients

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Nine neurosurgeons and a top plastic surgeon have resigned at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, causing patient families to question what happened to the doctors they've trusted with their children's lives.

A 6 On Your Side investigation has revealed the surgeons resigned their privileges to practice at Children’s Hospital in Omaha, and that the Nebraska Medical Association sent a letter to the hospital’s board of directors expressing concerns about patient care there.

DOCUMENT: Read the NMA letter to Children's Hospital

“My resignation was — I was sad about that,” said Dr. Jason Miller, who performed hundreds of delicate plastic surgeries on kids at Children’s Hospital over the last 10 years. “I didn’t want to resign, but I felt it was something I had to do.”

In a letter to the Children’s Hospital board, the Nebraska Medical Association raised concerns about summary suspensions, terminations, and resignations of long-time physician colleagues.

“We are saddened to hear of children being transferred to outside institutions for additional care because of complications and inadequate specialists physician coverage at Children’s Hospital,” the letter states.

6 On Your Side showed parents of children who had craniofacial surgeries at Children’s Hospital, but some parents found little comfort in the document.

“If they are putting their patients care and well-being first and foremost, that doesn’t speak to me in this letter at all,” said Holly Taylor, mother of another of the hospital’s patients.

Several Children’s parents are asking what happened to the doctors they trust with their children’s lives, noting that surgical reconstruction of a child's head or face requires building trust with the parents.

“You have to be able to trust them,” said Amanda Delancey, mother of a Children’s Hospital patient. “You lay your kid over into their arms, and you expect your child back.”

The exits have alarmed some parents of patients there.

“Complete shock that my boys’ surgeons are no longer there,” said mother Jena Barrows. “I mean, what is going on? We need answers.”

Dr. Miller tells parents of his patients he will continue to care for their children just not at Children’s Hospital.

“We had expressed some concerns about patient care issues that had happened in the hospital,” he said.

6 On Your Side sent numerous emails over the course of a day to Children's Hospital requesting a response to the NMA letter. On Thursday afternoon, we received the following from Dr. Richard Azizkhan, president and CEO of Children's Hospital:

The positive impact Children’s Hospital & Medical Center is having on the health of children in our region has never been greater. We recognize this community needs additional specialists and other experts so that families are not forced to travel long distances to get the highly specialized care their children need. We are working to change that by actively recruiting more specialty physicians; growing our clinical expertise; advancing research and education initiatives; enhancing our physical and virtual infrastructure; and establishing additional collaborative relationships with regional health systems and communities across the region. The fact is we are significantly increasing our physician staffing and will continue to strengthen the healthcare available to children in Omaha.

During the past three years, Children’s has been very successful in recruiting many talented doctors and researchers to complement our existing staff.

While we are unable to talk with news media about personnel matters, we can say that from time to time physicians will make decisions based on their individual circumstances. We do all we can to minimize the impact on our patient families and apologize for any inconvenience. We have an amazing team, with leadership, physicians and staff working together to provide the very best care for children.

"It's kind of disheartening," Barrows said. "Children's Hospital is letting go of some of the best-of-the-best surgeons."

Stay with 6 On Your Side for more information this story as it unfolds.