Hospital prepares to split with ER provider

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With an estimated $100,000 in savings on the table, and unsatisfied with its current provider, The Memorial Hospital has decided to reclaim management of its emergency room.

EmCare, a leading emergency care provider, had managed the TMH emergency room for about 1.5 years, contracting physicians to staff the ER and providing other services.

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The hospital will resume management of the ER beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday, the moment the EmCare/TMH contract expires.

"TMH has more aggressive quality and service expectations than EmCare could deliver," said George Rohrich, TMH chief executive officer.

The contract between the two sides was set to expire in 2006, when the hospital board agreed to extend the deal another six months with the condition that quality and excellence standards be added into the agreement.

However, with a reduction of $100,000 in expenses on the table, complaints from patients regarding billing and internal benchmarks exceeding EmCare's standards, the hospital chose not to renew the contract after months of discussion.

Rohrich said advantages to the switch include patients with billing questions dealing directly with the hospital's business department and having in-house management of the ER.

The CEO told the hospital board Wednesday night that he expects a smooth transition from EmCare to in-house ER management.

The hospital is in the process of hiring a new employee to oversee the emergency room, Rohrich said.

TMH averages about 450 emergency room visits per month, or about 5,500 per year. However, there are signs that ER visits are on the rise at the hospital.

According to statistics, ER visits have increased each month for the past four months with an average of about 500 visits per month.

Under EmCare, the ER was staffed with nine doctors total, six contracted through TMH and three through the private provider. When the transition is made, eight doctors will be on staff.

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