Emergency team at hospital will change

People going to the emergency room at Kingman Regional Medical Center after Dec.

31 are going to find many new faces.

Phoenix Emergency Group, an Arizona corporation providing physician services to KRMC since 1989, will end its affiliation with the hospital.

Team Health, a national group of physicians, is expected to staff the emergency room starting Jan.

1.

Brian Turney, chief executive officer of KRMC, said Team Health currently provides physician services at six hospitals in the state, among them Boswell Memorial in Phoenix and Del E.

Webb Memorial in Sun City.

A contract between Team Health and KRMC is still under negotiation.

But Turney said he expects it will be 2-3 years in length with a termination clause included in case the service is unsatisfactory.

"This was not an easy decision," Turney said of not extending the contract with the Phoenix Emergency Group.

"But we must maintain certain physician hours to patient ratios to provide proper coverage.

The Phoenix group is involved with two growing ERs, and the ratio of patient visits vs.

physician hours is not what it should be and patient satisfaction is declining, mostly due to waiting times."

Turney supplied two sets of figures on discharge times.

One is from the time of arrival at KRMC to release to go home and the other until placed in a hospital bed on one of the floors.

Discharge time to go home went from 2 hours, 45 minutes in January 2002 to its present figure of 3 hours, 35 minutes.

Discharge time from the ER into a hospital bed went from 5 hours in January 2002 to its present time of 6 hours, 30 minutes.

David Welch is the owner and president of the Phoenix Emergency Group, which has about 30 employees to staff emergency rooms at KRMC and John C.

Lincoln Hospital in Deer Valley.

"The difference in the two contracts is that at Deer Valley we're allowed to do our own billing and set our own fee schedule," Welch said.

"We have requested multiple times through the years that KRMC allow us to do the same and they have refused.

"They set the fees, do the billing and do not collect as well as private billing companies do.

Because of this we have not been able to put on extra coverage."

Welch said his group added an extra physician to the schedule at KRMC about four weeks ago for more coverage between the peak hours of 1 p.m.

and 1 a.m.

"We put that second doctor on in Kingman at a financial loss in order to save the contract," Welch said.

"We assumed we might be able to recoup losses and be able to do our own billing and set our own fees at contract renewal."

Welch said his group also has offered many past suggestions to hospital administration on ways to make the ER more efficient, but those suggestions have repeatedly been ignored and that has contributed to the current problem of lengthy waiting times.

Some of the suggestions offered were not feasible, while others have been implemented, Turney said.

"A year ago we offered to change the contract regarding revenues and at the same time asked them to change physician ratios," Turney said.

"We agreed to allow them to go out and bill on their own, but they were unable to respond to that request."

John C.

Lincoln Hospital in Deer Valley is one of two hospitals that are part of the John C.

Lincoln Health Network.

It was formerly known as Phoenix General Hospital before the name change in February 1997, said Susan Fuchs, media coordinator for the John C.

Lincoln Health Network.

"When it was still Phoenix General, the Phoenix Emergency Group staffed the ER and that goes back to 1993 or 1994," Fuchs said.

"The census back then was 10,000 patient visits per year and now it's 40,000 visits per year.

"As our population and census has increased they've increased the number of providers who take care of people coming into our emergency department in Deer Valley."

"On the official level, we have no quality issues with them.

Personally, my son and I have both been in there as patients and as a mom I can tell you the group provides good care."

Dr.

April Randle, a Phoenix Emergency Group physician who was on duty Tuesday in the emergency room at KRMC, expressed disappointment with the pending change.

"Our group has been very devoted to the people of Kingman and this is a loss to all of us," Randle said.

"There's a great camaraderie between the staff of the hospital and the ER physicians and a real team spirit exists."

The decision to enter into a contract with another provider was discussed and approved by the hospital's board of directors, Turney said.

H.I.

Johnson is a member of the KRMC board of directors.

He said three physician groups were interviewed as possible replacements for the emergency room before Turney announced his choice to the board at a meeting last month.

"Brian told me all of the arrangements had been taken care of and we would be getting new ER staffing soon," Johnson said.

"We hope this will improve the waiting time in the ER, which is a major problem at all hospitals including ours."

Johnson said he does not expect any disruption in service during the changeover and that the ER would have more physician staffing than in the past.

Turney said any physician with Phoenix Emergency Group is welcome to continue working in the emergency room at KRMC under Team Health.

Welch said he is not aware of any doctors in his group willing to do so.

Several attempts to contact a spokesman for River Medical to hear what its view is on the forthcoming change at KRMC were unsuccessful.