The Board of Trustees for The Memorial Hospital unanimously approved an agreement Wednesday night that they think will save them thousands each year.
The idea to contract services from EmCare to manage the hospital's emergency room came on the heels of low scores from community members about the quality of care received and doctors' observations that a large number of patient complaints at the hospital originated in the ER.
The proposal from EmCare includes providing an onsite medical director and a regional nurse director. The company would be responsible for recruiting staff, providing training and marketing.
"(EmCare) would provide qualified ER physicians for the hospital," TMH administrator Randy Phelps said. "They'll provide leadership and continuing education for our ER doctors."
EmCare is attempting to contract with current ER physicians, but it is not known yet which physicians were approached and which ones agreed.
Phelps said hospital officials chose EmCare based on its reputation and past work.
"We expect EmCare will bring the same practice standards that they have experienced in more than 300 hospitals in our situation," he said.
Quorum Health Resources, the hospital's management company, has a relationship with EmCare that allows it to negotiate a special agreement that limits profits the company can make from its contract with TMH.
According to its Web site, Physician-led EmCare has contracts with more than 365 hospitals across the nation.
The contract will save the hospital $51,000 a year, according to EmCare figures.
Pam Thompson, community relations director for TMH, said money will be saved because EmCare will collect due amounts, such as deductibles and payments for services rendered.
Phelps said he hopes contracting with EmCare will not affect the current staffing levels.
"We're hopeful they won't have to bring in new physicians," he said. "But that has yet to be determined."
Thompson said she anticipates EmCare will deal more with advisement and policy and will refer physicians only when needed.
Although TMH is contracting with EmCare, Phelps said the hospital philosophy has not changed.
"We want to have quality and care provided by the doctors," he said.