TMH courting new surgeon

Hospital narrows field to bring much-needed staff member

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The Memorial Hospital may soon hire a new general surgeon if it successfully recruits a candidate who is talking seriously about coming to Craig.

"We've interviewed three candidates," said Hospital Administrator Randy Phelps. "One of the three is very interested in coming to Craig. We're actively trying to do background research and get a contract in place. The board has indicated it would like to have her come for another interim visit. We could be very close if this candidate works out."

Dr. Gianna Scannell has visited Craig twice. According to Phelps, Scannell lives in Colorado now. She likes Craig and snow and the outdoors and would like to buy a home with some property if she moves here.

A desire to live in Craig long-term was one of the board's highest priorities for a general surgeon candidate. Other requirements included excellent training, a satisfactory practice history, and reports of delighted patients, among others, Phelps said.

Dr. David James, the current surgeon, has scaled back his practice. He has an agreement with the hospital to work two weeks a month. When a new surgeon is hired, James will be available to cover days off, vacations and other times when the hospital needs help in surgery.

According to Phelps, the hospital spent thousands last year outsourcing coverage in the surgery department to back up James. The surgeons came from Grand Junction, Denver and other locations to fill vacancies on a contract basis. If TMH can hire a surgeon, it can avoid those contract costs and invest the money elsewhere, Phelps said.

The hospital first began recruiting a surgeon in October. It's a position in demand by other hospitals in Colorado.

At TMH's December meeting of the Board of Trustees, the vice president of TMH's management company said he's visited 11 hospitals in Colorado and six are in need of a general surgeon.

"I know of three who are looking for general surgeon positions to be filled," Phelps said on Monday. "Apparently they are in high demand."

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com

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