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Lowville hospital officials, ER doctors have “productive” meeting

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County General Hospital officials on Wednesday took a first step toward retaining the hospital’s longtime emergency room physician group.

“We hope we can come to a positive resolution to this,” Dr. Daniel R. Cappon, head of North Country Physicians P.C., said at Wednesday’s hospital board of managers meeting, which was packed with supporters of the group.

Dr. Cappon told board members and roughly 50 other people inside and just outside the John C. Herrman M.D. conference room that he and fellow group member Dr. Robert M. Harryman had a “productive” meeting earlier in the day with hospital CEO Eric R. Burch and Human Resources Director Timothy W. Ryan.

A follow-up meeting is to be held in early October with hopes of reaching a suitable compromise by the end of next month, he said.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” Dr. Cappon said.

Mr. Burch also said the meeting was productive and that the hospital’s intent is to retain the four-doctor group while possibly bringing in a larger group for them to work with to provide more complete coverage.

The county-owned hospital in late July sent out requests for proposals for an emergency room physician group and hospitalist service.

The idea would be to contract with one group of doctors that could staff the emergency department while also handling after-hours admissions and initial treatment so family practitioners would not have to come in at night.

In response, the North Country Physicians — who also include Drs. Jon R. Hager and Sean P. Harney — submitted their resignations, effective Dec. 13, indicating that they were opposed to the idea of emergency room/hospitalist coverage and would not have the resources to provide the services requested.

The hospital employs two full-time emergency room doctors to help the private group provide around-the-clock service.

Dr. Cappon at Wednesday’s meeting said his group, which has worked at the hospital for the past 24 years, would be open to working with other doctors and acknowledged that after-hour care can be “very, very grueling” for family practitioners.

He said the group’s desire is to continue working at the hospital.

Dr. Cappon also expressed gratitude for the support shown by those in attendance.

“It’s more than touching,” he said.

Several other people spoke on behalf of the emergency room group.

“We are here to voice our concern and show our support to these physicians,” said area resident Mary Waligory.

Attendees at the meeting also passed around a petition in support of the physician group.

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