TMH seeks EmCare contract extension

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The Memorial Hospital is seeking to extend its contract with a national company that oversees emergency care and physician management for another six months.

On Wednesday night, the hospital board of trustees authorized Chief Executive Officer George Rohrich to begin re-negotiations with EmCare -- a company that bills itself as the nation's leading provider of emergency care and management. The hospital entered into a contract with EmCare in November 2005 and the deal is set to expire Oct. 31.

Rohrich told the board that, because the hospital is short-staffed and time is of the essence, re-upping with EmCare is the best, logical short-term solution to maintaining quality care.

"I think six months will give us a lot more time to get our ducks in a row," Rohrich said. "I don't think we have the time or the people to change this." He added that continuing the contract in lieu of opening a search for another provider ensures "the quality of care we have today rather than send us chasing after a few dollars.

"We'll review this and have more discussions in three or four months."

Chief Financial Officer Roger White said the hospital estimated it would lose $50,000 per year on EmCare. That total has come in at $318,000 so far, he said.

TMH's emergency room receives about 450 visits per year, hospital officials said. EmCare provides professional services for the emergency room.

Rohrich said the hospital would try to negotiate performance standards into the new contract.

"What we want to be in there is bottom line assurances of quality," Rohrich said.

EmCare, based in Dallas, Texas, employs more than 4,500 doctors and several hundred nurse practitioners and physician's assistants. The company staffs about 350 hospital emergency rooms and treats more than five million patients annually.

According to its company profile, EmCare has 17,800 total employees and earns about $480 billion per year.

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