General surgeon search ongoing

Finding just the right candidate to serve as a general surgeon at The Memorial Hospital is turning into a lengthy process, but that's no surprise to hospital officials.

TMH has two recruiting firms on the prowl for a general surgeon to replace longtime local surgeon Dr. David James who scaled back his practice last year, Administrator Randy Phelps said.

Phelps said the hospital is looking for a surgeon with a completed residency in the past five to 10 years and someone who has experience and would enjoy living in a rural landscape.

"A narrow focus makes for a less robust candidate pool, and our geography makes it even narrower, but that's OK," he said. "We want the right person."

TMH has interviewed at least three potential surgeons in the past year. Dr. Gianna Scannell visited Craig several times and worked for the hospital for 45 days last spring, but ultimately TMH decided Scannell was not the right person for the job.

Dr. Scott Walker from Fort Worth, Texas, most recently has shown interest in the position, Phelps said, but the doctor hasn't yet been interviewed.

Phelps said that Walker's record is good, he is less than five years out of his residency, and he's looking for work out of Forth Worth because there is a saturation of surgeons there.

Still, Phelps said the hiring process might involve multiple visits and continue for months. TMH searched 18 months for Dr. Michael Crane, and the gynecologist and his family made several visits to the area before signing on, Phelps said.

TMH is contracted with Dr. James for two more years and there has been no talk of extension, Phelps said.

"We're looking for somebody that wants to be in a rural community and is willing to provide good coverage with community," he said. "We want somebody willing to build a practice and who can demonstrate a willingness to work with the staff."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com

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