Contract docs might join River Region’s ER staff|[04/24/08]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2008

In sync with health-care industry trends, emergency staff at River Region Medical Center might be augmented by contract providers in the coming months.

In addition to a team of seven doctors specializing in emergency medicine, more help might be added to manage patient loads in the ER during busy times, hospital spokesman Diane Gawronski said.

As is the case with emergency rooms nationwide, she said, those visiting the emergency room do not always have symptoms of a true emergency.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“With these additional providers, we will enhance our patient through-put,” Gawronski said, adding the scope of the change is being worked out.

“It could be nurse practitioners,” she said. “It could result in more doctors. Specialties could be outsourced.”

If carried out, it would add to the list of changes at River Region. For starters, adding ER staff would mirror a similar move by River Region in 2007 – shortly after its parent company, Triad Hospitals Inc., merged with Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems — when its lone cardiovascular surgeon was replaced by a team of five doctors employed by Jackson-based Cardiovascular Surgical Group.

While River Region apparently is satisfied with the firm’s performance, which service will staff the U.S. 61 North facility is still uncertain.

“When we make changes, it’s usually for the better,” Gawronski said.

Marian Hill, the chemical dependency treatment center, will move from its current home at the former ParkView Regional Medical Center on McAuley Drive.

“It’s something we’re moving forward with,” Gawronski said.

River Region officials have said the third floor of its West Campus on North Frontage Road will be its new home. Formerly, the space was occupied by the acute rehab and post-acute care units, closed in 2006. Those services are now provided by Promise Specialty Hospital, which rents space from River Region-owned campus at the West Campus.

In its 2007 community report, the hospital recorded 34,400 visits to the emergency room for the year.

In- and out-patient visits totaled 9,700, while 11,750 patients were admitted. Births for the year totaled 1,130.

River Region opened its main campus on U.S. 61 North in February 2002, completing a near-total consolidation of local health-care services. The main hospital is 391,196 square feet and serves residents in Vicksburg and Warren County, as well as those in Issaquena, Sharkey, Claiborne, Yazoo and western Hinds counties, and residents in Louisiana as far west as Delhi.

Its market is generally in keeping with its parent company’s profile. More than 65 percent of the company’s 28-state footprint contains markets where a CHS -affiliated facility is the sole health-care provider.

The company this year sold nine of its hospitals in Arkansas, Alabama, Oregon and Tennessee to another Franklin, Tenn.-based firm, Capella Healthcare, for about $315 million. Published reports attributed the sale to reducing outstanding debt totaling more than $9 billion.

In March, Atlantis Research downgraded CHS stock status from “buy” to “hold.” At the close of business Wednesday, shares of the company traded at $36.99, up $1.03 from Tuesday.