St. Lukes Radiologists released, no surgeon on call
Doctors raise concerns
By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer
For about a dozen days this month, St. Lukes Wood River Medical
Center has not had a general surgeon on emergency call, and Monday, the center operated
for five hours without a physician radiologist.
Problems with emergency surgical coverage may continue, but temporary
arrangements have been made for radiology services, according to St. Lukes chief
administrator Jon Moses.
Yesterday Moses said in a telephone interview, "from my perspective,
this is no news. This is the life of a hospital administrator."
Until this month, three general surgeons had practiced in the Wood River
Valley and had shared emergency call coverage at WRMC, according to Dr. Alice Police.
On Aug. 9, Police ended her general surgery practice in the valley after
Moses said Monday that Police caused the scheduling problem by not
adequately informing the hospital of her move to a medical clinic in Newport Beach, Calif.
Police, 47, said in an interview Tuesday of last week that St. Lukes
had known about her departure for months.
As for the scheduling problems involving general surgeons, Moses said
theres "still a chance" theyll continue because the surgery
department is still understaffed. St. Lukes is currently looking for a replacement
for Police, he said.
He said the hospital had experienced no need for emergency general surgery
services on the days when there was no coverage.
If a patient did need emergency surgery and no surgeon was on duty, Moses
said the patient would be airlifted to Boise or Twin Falls depending on the patients
Moses told the Mountain Express that the Boise Radiology Group will
provide temporary radiological services until the hospital finds a permanent solution.
Police said general surgery is considered an "essential service"
that hospitals should guarantee. She said she did not remember a time during her practice
here when there wasnt a surgeon on call for emergencies.
Police said she told the hospital more than six months ago that she would
be leaving her practice. She attributed the lack of emergency coverage to poor scheduling.
Police said she left her practice here, in part, because she is frustrated
with St. Lukes Hospital, which is currently managing WRMC.
During a Monday telephone interview, radiologist Dr. Greg Taylor said that
St. Lukes had released him and his partner, Dr. Dennis Davis, which left the
hospital with no radiological services.
Taylor said he had worked as a radiologist in the valley for 11 years, and
Davis had worked as a radiologist here for 20 years.
Dr. Kathleen ONeal, who trained in womens imaging at the
University of Utah, recently joined their group, called Mountain Medical Associates.
With the new hospital scheduled to open Nov. 19, a St. Lukes review
board has been evaluating existing contracts with hospital-based physicians to decide
whether to renew them, a hospital press release announced Monday.
Radiologists Taylor and Davis had a three-year written contract with the
hospital that expired June 30, Taylor said. Since then, he said, chief administrator Moses
had assured them that St. Lukes would offer them a new contract to work at the new
hospital now under construction.
In the meantime, Taylor said he and Davis had been fulfilling their
previous contractual obligations in good faith while working without a contract.
Davis and Taylor said Moses gave no reason for St. Lukes declining
to offer them a new contract.
"This is a case of misplaced trust," Taylor said. "Based on
Moses representation, we brought on board [a new employee], and I purchased a new
house in Indian Creek. I trusted him. That was my mistake. I should have gotten it in
Moses said he sees it differently. He said he was "very
disappointed" that Taylor and Davis stopped working for the hospital.
A St. Lukes press release shed little light on the matter. It states
the Community Councilan advisory group of local residents chosen by St.
Lukes"has decided to seek to contract with a [different] group of
The Community Council, the press release stated, "determined that the
services provided by [Davis and Taylor] would not adequately meet the needs of the new
medical center and its patients."
Members of the Community Council are: Ann Agnew, Candida Burnap, John
Chapman, Nancy Cord, St. Lukes president Ed Dahlberg, Dr. Joseph David, Dr. Frank
Fiaschetti, Morley Golden, Dr. Kathleen Haisley, David Hinson, Wilson McElhinny,
administrator Jon Moses, R. William Nelson, Joan ONeil, Bud Purdy, Will Storey,
Preston Strazza, Dr. Jon C. Thorson, Dr. Stephen Wasilewski and Gene Whitmyre.
According to the press release, "Due to the legal and ethical issues
surrounding such contract decisions, management and Community Council members must
respectfully decline to discuss any further details of this decision."
The press release also stated, "Contracts for all other
hospital-based physician services, including pathology, anesthesia and emergency services,
are moving forward with the physicians currently at the Wood River Medical Center."