Oncology clinic in TMH future | CraigDailyPress.com

Oncology clinic in TMH future

Chemotherapy to be offered in Moffat County

Nicole Inglis

George Rohrich, The Mem­orial Hospital chief executive director, had what he called "big and exciting news" for the board at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

During his report, he mentioned Beka Warren, interim chief clinical officer, had taken the lead on bringing an oncology ward back to Moffat County.

"We're going to have an oncologist in Craig," Rohrich said. "This is very exciting news."

Warren said TMH used to have a clinic for cancer patients years ago, but the oncologist was killed in a horse-riding accident and the clinic disappeared.

However, a call she received Wednesday morning could make cancer treatment in Moffat County a reality once more.

Warren is working with St. Mary's in Grand Junction to move an oncologist to TMH and begin a chemotherapy clinic in the next few months.

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"We were contacted by St. Mary's (on Wednesday) morning," she said. "We really don't have any details yet. We're still in conversation about what kinds of things we will need to supply."

She said since losing the last oncologist, TMH has been trying to recruit a new oncologist with the support of St. Mary's, but they were hard pressed to find an available oncologist to send to Craig.

Warren said St. Mary's found an oncologist to direct the TMH clinic and will begin training personnel as early as mid-March.

Warren said three TMH nurses already are certified to provide chemotherapy services. The clinic will not provide radiation treatments and Warren said cancer patients most likely still will have to travel for certain types of appointments.

Still, she said a TMH oncology clinic could be a tremendous asset to the community.

"It's a terrifically important need here," Warren said. "We've been trying to recruit these kinds of services for about three years now until St. Mary's stepped in. Now people won't have to go to Grand Junction or Denver."

Board votes to close obstetric privileges

At the meeting Wednesday, the TMH board voted, 7-0, to close the practice of obstetrics to any new applicants for privileges.

There currently are six doctors practicing obstetric procedures at TMH, and they will all retain their privileges.

The Joint Conference Com­mittee, a group of medical staff, administration and board members, discussed the issue at length at their meeting this month, ultimately deciding that closing obstetric privileges to new applicants would preserve medical care in Moffat County.

"It's simply a matter of dilution," board member Melton Sullivan said. "If a doctor is doing a procedure on a regular basis, their skill set will not dilute. You want to know that they are busy with procedures."

He said the committee discussed how if more applicants were granted privileges, the number of procedures — such as deliveries — are not enough to keep all the doctors busy and well-practiced in the procedures.

He said one doctor brought up the issue that closing the privileges might prevent physicians from moving to the area if the field of obstetrics is of interest to them.

"Physician recruitment has been an area of difficulty in the past," Sullivan said. "This could impact it, or it might not. But when it comes to medical care, if a doctor is doing a procedure all the time, it's really your best bet. We decided that if we continued to grant privileges, we'd be hurting the medical staff as a whole."

Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or ninglis@craigdailypress.com.

In other action

The Memorial Hospital Board:

• Approved, 7-0, a recommendation to reappoint Dr. George Pachelo to associate staff.

• Approved, 7-0, a recommendation to appoint Dr. Scott Sulentich to active staff.

• Approved, 7-0, a motion to create a Medical Staff Development Committee to focus on physician recruitment.

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