Hospital hires new doctors

TMH adds surgeon, emergency room doctor

— The Memorial Hospital hired two new doctors to fill positions outlined in its Medical Staff Development Plan.

Dr. Kurt Papenfus began May 25 as the hospital's first and only emergency medical doctor and is charged to direct the TMH emergency room.

"Today emergency medicine is its own specialty," TMH CEO George Rohrich said. "They're trained like it was combat medicine, and they have to handle all kinds of things right off the bat."

Papenfus was recommended to the hospital by another doctor who worked with him in Glenwood Springs. Hospital staff said they have been happy with the job he has done so far.

"I know we had an emergency medical team from Hayden bring a transport in and they were very impressed with him," Medical Staff Coordinator Amy Updike said.

TMH formerly contracted EmCare, an outside emergency medical provider, to staff and run its emergency room. The hospital was unsatisfied with EmCare's management of its ER, and chose not to renew the contract May 1 this year.

"We just weren't seeing the benefits we expected, and we wanted an EM physician to run EM services," Rohrich said.

Dr. Jeff Womble, 35, started Wednesday as a new general surgeon. He will work alongside Dr. Stanley Pence. Both are replacing Dr. David James, who retired in May.

The workload for a general surgeon is too much for one person to realistically handle, Rohrich said. The goal in replacing him was to find two quality surgeons to serve the county.

"With only one person, the service is essentially part-time," Rohrich said. "The job is on-call, 24-seven, 365 days a year. To run the emergency medical services we need in Craig and Moffat County, we need 24-seven general surgery. These people save lives on a regular basis."

TMH is Womble's first job after his four-year residency in Kalamazoo, Mich. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

"I had grown up in a small town in Texas, and I was looking for a place similar to raise a family," Womble said. "(I plan to be here) the rest of my life."

Womble moved to Craig with his wife, Jeana, and their four kids in July.

TMH plans to continue evaluating its medical staff and making additions where it needs them.

"There are certain benchmarks hospitals can use to decide what kinds of doctors and specialists we should have," Rohrich said.

Next week, TMH expects to meet with the Greeley Co., a medical consulting firm, which will assist the hospital in creating a written plan on what specialties would best benefit the hospital and how to address those wants.

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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