Board to discuss ER fix

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Hospital board members will consider allowing a management group to oversee physician care in at the emergency room of The Memorial Hospital.

The idea to contract services from EmCare comes on the heels of low scores from community members on the quality of care received in the ER and doctors' observations that a large number of patient complaints at the hospital originated in the ER.

Board members will decide at Wednesday night's meeting whether to enter into contract talks with the management company.

Physcian-led EmCare has contracts with more than 365 hospitals across the nation, according to its Web site.

"There are several elements that have called it to our attention," TMH Administrator Randy Phelps said about the need for oversight in the ER. "A survey 18 months ago voiced desire among community members and physicians to have skilled physicians specifically to the ER."

Currently, the hospital has one ER-specific physician, Phelps said.

A proposal by EmCare includes an onsite medical director and a regional nurse director. The company would be responsible for recruiting staff, providing training and marketing.

The current proposal would save the hospital $55,000 per year, according to EmCare's figures.

Phelps said he hoped the change would not affect current staffing levels.

"We would not be considering this if we did not believe it would help our performance," he said.

Board members also are expected to vote about whether to enact a medical staff development plan. Hospital officials have gathered two years worth of research to develop a plan to limit some physician services. The plan would put a moratorium on accepting new staff for services such as orthopedic surgery, urologists, obstetrics and gynecology and general surgery.

The plan was prompted to "preserve the practices of physicians," Phelps said. Board members have the option to lift the moratorium on an as-needed basis or with changing demographics.

Implementation of the plan doesn't hinder TMH from its ongoing search for a general surgeon. It means the hospital won't hire for that position without a contract.

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