Surgeon search

Potential general surgeon visits Craig on trial basis


The physician who may become the new general surgeon at The Memorial Hospital is scheduled to arrive in Craig today to try out the position for one month.

The trip will mark Dr. Gianna Scannell's third visit to Craig. TMH's Board of Trustees is pursuing contract negotiations with her. At the board's January meeting, trustees decided to ask Scannell to sign a one-month contract. It will provide Scannell a chance to meet all the physicians and nursing staff. Also, TMH could further evaluate her clinical skills.

The hospital first began looking for a general surgeon in October 2003.

TMH is trying to find a replacement for Dr. David James, who has scaled back his practice. James still has a contract to work with TMH two weeks a month. Currently, TMH contracts with outside physicians to provide coverage when James is off.

While Scannell is in town, she will be on call for surgeries and available for consultations.

She also will see patients in an office setting, said Hospital Administrator Randy Phelps.

"We hope to mimic the practice as it would ultimately unfold," Phelps said.

Scannell graduated from medical school in Italy in 1974. She completed a surgical internship in New York in 1978.

Currently, Scannell lives in Aspen. She is taking on temporary assignments at various hospitals, most recently in La Junta, Phelps said.

Although Scannell's visit is a step toward hiring her full time, TMH still has "a number of challenges with respect to that relationship, including the development of a contract," Phelps wrote in a February letter to the board.

"I've yet to see a final proposed agreement," Phelps wrote, "and it is my understanding that this is now hung up with her lawyer who is attempting to work in the Hyperbaric Oxygen program into the deal."

A hyperbaric machine can treat patients with high-altitude sickness, and those with carbon monoxide poisoning.

Also, by forcing oxygenated blood into parts of the body, it can speed recovery from certain injuries, Phelps said.

Although Scannell is interested in a hyperbaric program at TMH, Phelps told the board that discussion should be a decision that is "secondary and independent" from Scannell's contract negotiations.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or

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