Palomar Health proposes a change of contract supplier, causing the decline of doctors

Palomar Health doctors oppose a change in contract healthcare staff offered by the Escondido, Calif.-Based healthcare system over concerns about safety and staff, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

On June 21, Palomar ad it had agreed on a three-year contract with emergency care provider Emergent Medical Associates and another medical group, Benchmark, to provide emergency physicians, hospitalists, resuscitators and related support staff for its hospitals in Escondido and Poway, California.

Emergent Medical Associates would replace Vituity, which has provided intensivists for the past six years, hospitalists for eight years, and emergency physicians for more than four decades, Palomar said.

But some doctors are opposed to the proposal, citing concerns it could lead to fewer doctors on duty and safety concerns, according to the report.

Sabiha Pasha, MD, chief of staff at Palomar Medical Center Escondido, told Union-Tribune Palomar plans to reduce the number of doctors available to “round up” patients on a daily basis and add non-doctor paramedical health workers, which will reduce the number of people to treat patients.

“It’s a safety issue,” Dr Pasha told the newspaper. “As Chief of Staff, I believe it is my duty to speak out against this.”

In a press release, Palomar Health said that Emerging Medical Associates had agreed to offer jobs to about 100 physicians and 45 other self-employed workers affected by the contract change.

The health system has estimated that 90 to 95 percent of affected physicians and non-salaried staff will continue to work at Palomar Health in the same capacities.

However, another doctor, Allan Hansen, MD, medical director of the emergency room at Palomar Escondido, told the Union-Tribune doctors are likely to leave, and that the decision to join the new group represents the abandonment of “ownership and autonomy” built up over time.

Palomar Health President and CEO Diane Hansen said Emergent Medical Associates was chosen because it was “most aligned with Palomar Health’s strategic goals”

“Our community and our patients expect us to be good stewards of our resources,” said Ms. Hansen. “The EMA’s proposal allows us to retain all of our staff and reinvest the saved resources to improve patient care.”

Palomar Health said it plans to use the savings to purchase three new CT scanners, a new MRI machine and make new investments in service lines such as cardiology, women’s services and orthopedics.

If signed, the contract would go into effect in August.

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