Sumter County Health Dept. ends pediatric services



SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. - In about two weeks hundreds of families in Sumter County will have to find a new pediatrician.

The county’s Health Department is losing its pediatric doctor, and Channel 9’s Bianca Castro asked what's being done to make sure children from low-income families get the medical care they need.

The county is ending its pediatric services March 1, and many parents don’t know what they’re going to do.

“A lot of people come here. My mom used to come here and a bunch of people who I know, they're all coming here,” said one mother, who didn’t want to be named.

WFTV learned the current pediatrician is retiring, and the center expects a $275,000 drop in yearly Medicaid reimbursements.

Director Dr. Sanford Zelnick said he was forced to make a tough decision.

“As the director for the department, I have to look across the landscape at what clinical services exist within a county and make decisions,” he said.

Seven miles down the road is Langly Family Health Services, which has beefed up its staff to take on more patients no matter the family's ability to pay.

The Health Department will continue to offer all the maternity services available now and families will still be able to bring their children in for immunizations and physicals, but for anything else they’re out of luck.

“Parents are going to have to make a decision about where to go for pediatric care,” said Zelnick.

The Health Department's director said he plans to ask for more money from the Sumter County Commission to expand a children's dental program inside local schools.