HCMH board chooses new ER provider
Hospital estimates savings of $70,000 a year and up under new contract

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

May 28, 2004 -- Effective August 1, Hopkins County Memorial Hospital will have a new provider for emergency room physicians following action by the hospital board Thursday evening.

The board chose EMC, a regional provider of emergency room physician services headquartered in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The group currently has 14 contracts in the Metroplex and East Texas, including Presbyterian hospitals in Dallas and Kaufmann, a medical center in Weatherford, and Mother Frances in Tyler and Winnsboro.

HCMH Chief Executive Officer Michael McAndrew said the list of references provided by EMC was somewhat unusual.

"Their references were glowing," he said. "People spoke very highly of them and talked about how, ever since they hired this group, their level of customer satisfaction had increased significantly."

The contract with the new emergency room physician service will include two current ER doctors, Dr. Ken Patterson and Dr. Ricky Cameron, who are currently a part of Hopkins Health Stat, the current ER physician provider.

Annual savings to the hospital would amount to more than $70,000 per year due to a decrease in a subsidy HCMH will pay to the ER provider.

"We are going to move from a direct subsidy of about $488,000 a year to a direct subsidy of $333,000 a year," McAndrew explained. "However, there will be additional monies that we will pay as a retention premium to keep Dr. Patterson and Dr. Cameron on staff."

The retention premium to keep the two current doctors on the ER staff will decrease after the first two years of the three-year agreement with the hospital. Compared to the subsidy currently paid, HCMH will save $70,000 the first year, more than $80,000 the second year and over $100,000 in the third year.

The subsidy amounts paid to the physician provider group will also decrease based on the volume of business going through the emergency department.

The new contract will not include a requirement contained on the current agreement that the ER doctors to be residents of Hopkins County. McAndrew said the requirement was dropped because of the difficulties encountered in getting doctors to move to any rural area.

"That's no slight on Hopkins County," he said. "It's just difficult to recruit physicians to rural areas and becomes more difficult when you are talking about physicians who are going to be working shifts. It's just a different environment (for) emergency room physicians."

Ideally, he said, the doctors would be residents of neighboring counties.

In other business, the hospital board reorganized and, in a break from tradition, named Joe Bob Burgin to serve another term as board chairman at the request of McAndrew.

"It's really important for the CEO to have some continuity with the board chair," McAndrew said.

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