Surgeon Staffing for a Small Community in Need

October 5th, 2010 3 Min read Surgeon Staffing for a Small Community in Need Blog
Download PDF Read how CompHealth applied its expertise and knowledge in helping a small-town hospital find a perfect surgeon for its facility and resume its surgical services. Background Harney District Hospital in Oregon serves a population of less than 8,000 people spread over 10,000 square miles. This small hospital of just 25 beds was trying to cover all the surgical needs of its patients with one full-time surgeon. Tallying the hours the surgeon spent on call, in surgery or at the clinic, the net coverage only amounted to approximately 14 days a month. While one person can only work so many hours, it was also difficult to tell emergency patients and their families that the closest surgeon was 128 miles away on a particular day. After the permanent surgeon left town, the healthcare providers at Harney were forced to turn away surgery patients and divert many emergencies to the nearest hospital (the aforementioned facility located 128 miles away). Not only was the hospital’s reputation for patient care taking a beating, the facility was losing revenue with every passing day without a replacement surgeon. Challenge The loss of a key member of their provider staff meant that this facility had to come up with a solution to meet the growing surgical patient needs, without sacrificing quality of care. Hiring a full-time provider would take too long, so the hospital contemplated temporary solutions. While most of these solutions met the urgent timeline, previous experiences with ill-suited temporary doctors led to some reluctance to hire locum tenens. When CompHealth was entrusted with the job of filling the position, the challenges for its representatives included providing the right surgeon or surgeons to ensure uninterrupted service and reinstating the client’s faith in locum tenens. That first impression could make or break the relationship forever. Solution The CompHealth team comprising Tamina Masina, Kristina Roberts, Scott Bradford, and Kami Klayton went right to work without losing any time. The objective was clear: to find a surgeon who matched all the needs of the facility. The team spoke with several doctors and screened them for their understanding of the size of the facility, the location, and the types of patients they were most likely to get. In addition to their qualifications, experience, and quality of patient care, the CompHealth team worked to unearth clues to each potential candidate’s perception of their role in the community. The doctor had to easily become a part of the small community and a trusted representative of the facility. After researching all the available options, the team zeroed in on the perfect candidates and recommended four surgeons for the facility to work on a rotational basis. Results The hospital liked the candidates presented by the CompHealth team and began to hire temporary staff to cover their surgery department on a rotational basis, ensuring uninterrupted surgery services around the clock and throughout the year. Gaining the confidence of this small hospital was a big reward for CompHealth, especially considering the facility’s previous doubts about locum tenens. This small critical access hospital was looking for a way to care for its patients, stop sending them to another facility for surgery, and keep costs down in the process. CompHealth offered them the perfect solution—not one, but four surgeons taking turns to keep the service available around the clock and throughout the year. It satisfied an urgent need for patient care, and at the same time went a long way in restoring the facility’s image. By placing surgeons who perfectly matched the facility’s needs, the CompHealth team also made it financially appealing to the client. The hospital administration could recapture the lost revenue incurred due to the prolonged vacancy. They say that they are asked all the time how can they afford to use locum tenens from CompHealth. “How can you afford not to?” is always their response.
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