Memorial Hospital staff elects anesthesiologist as new chief

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When the medical staff from The Memorial Hospital went looking for a new chief of staff last week, they turned to a familiar face.

On Thursday, the medical staff selected Tammy Rice, an anesthesiologist who's worked at the hospital for eight years. She is a former chief of staff. She served in that role from 2002 to 2004 and was vice chief from 2000 to 2002.

"I'm glad (the medical staff) has the confidence in me to take over," Rice said.

Rice replaces Dr. Michael Crane, who resigned in April, and will serve the remainder of the departed obstetrician/gynecologist's term, which expires in January. Dr. Jon Ossen, who is vice chief, filled in for Crane on an interim basis.

The chief of staff oversees patient care and serves as a buffer between the hospital's health care professionals and the administration and board of trustees.

"I'm maybe what you'd call the representative of the medical staff," she said. "I'll represent their views to the board."

Rice received unanimous support from the medical staff Thursday. She has the same level of confidence from administration, TMH administrator George Rohrich said.

"I believe she's going to bring a new energy and support to the medical staff back to the chief of staff position," Rohrich said. "I look forward to working with her. We have a lot of big projects, and I look forward to completing those."

Rice said she will handle hospital matters case by case.

"I'll mainly just take things step by step and handle anything that comes across the desk," she said. She'd also like to help "bring back some harmony to the medical staff."

Before Crane resigned, he made numerous allegations against hospital administration and the board of trustees and criticized patient care practices. His claims spurred an internal investigation at TMH, which is ongoing.

Preliminary findings from the investigation have not corroborated any of Crane's claims of patient neglect.

Although recent months have been turbulent, Rice said she doesn't think quality of care has been hindered. Doctors and staff at TMH are providing the same high-level service as ever, she said.

"Really, I don't see that patient care has been affected at all," Rice said. "I think we give good care at the hospital."

She also praised Crane as a physician.

"I like Dr. Crane," Rice said. "I think he's an excellent surgeon."

The medical staff will vote on a new chief of staff early next year. Although Rice will be eligible for another term, she isn't opposed to the staff injecting the role with some new blood.

"Chief of staff is a time-consuming job and not always an easy one," Rice said. "I suppose at this point I'm happy to take over, but I would hope maybe to take my name out of the pool (in January)."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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