It is disheartening that Lewis County Hospital may oust the long-standing physician group serving its emergency room. Samaritan Medical Center under past CEO David Tinker similarly acted to replace its long-term radiology group several years ago.
That effort was thwarted through the proactive efforts of the Samaritan community and medical staff. Ultimately, Samaritans Board of Trustees chose to keep its relationship with the skilled, committed and local physicians of Northern Radiology Associates. Samaritans doctors also voted no confidence in its CEO and the soured relations between them and administration were repaired upon Mr. Tinkers termination and the skills of his replacement, current CEO Thomas Carman.
Research at the time showed bringing in outside groups proves not only disruptive, but very costly to hospitals. Hospitals can be left scrambling for coverage, then turning to national companies that provide temporary doctors at outrageous rates. There are physician shortages everywhere, and Lewis County thinks it is just going to plug in a half dozen new ER docs?
Where will the replacement physicians come from? How will the hospital compensate them for coming to Lewis County? What is their experience and training? Will they live in your community or commute? Will they have a vested interest in the local people and hospital?
The ER physicians in place are skilled, dedicated and local. They have established relationships with their peers and patients. They have made their livelihood amongst you, for you and serve you well.
Their families call Lewis County home. These doctors deserve and should be part of the solution, not made scapegoats for poor management. Their talents and service to Lewis County should be cherished and appreciated, not errantly dismissed. Rise up, Lewis County, and ask if your hospital is doing the right thing start with the hospital board members. The grass is always greener on the other side until you get there.
Ann E. Phillips
The writer is a health care attorney.