July 8, 2013

ER doc asks for extension

Hospital planning to go with new emergency group.

by Mitchell Kirk

---- — A physician with a medical group contracted to work in the emergency room at Logansport Memorial Hospital is asking the hospital's administration to delay terminating the group's contract as the hospital continues with plans to go with a new group in October.

Dave Ameen, president and CEO of the hospital, said the hospital is currently in final contract negotiations with a new emergency group he said will likely start in the beginning of October.

Ameen said a lack of consistency among the current group, specifically "too many doctors coming in and out," is a reason behind wanting to make the change.

The emergency room's current staff has been employed by Indianapolis-based St. Vincent Health since 2011.

Dr. Robert Kraff, an emergency physician with St. Vincent Health who works in the ER at Logansport Memorial, recently drafted a letter to Dr. Gerhard Winkel, chief of staff at the hospital, requesting a delay in any group change until July 2014.

"We can use this time to work out questions of performance, benchmarks and other issues," he writes in his letter.

In an interview, Kraff said this will be the third emergency group the hospital has had in about three years.

"Unfortunately, medicine to some degree has become a business," he said.

The medical executive committee will meet June 11, he went on to say, where more input may be shared as to whether the hospital should get a new emergency group.

"I don't think they're going to benefit from another group," he said.

Kraff elaborates on this point in his letter, writing there is a limited number of qualified emergency physicians available in the area at any one time.

"It follows that any contracting group will draw from this pool and the end result will be physicians with similar training, background and ability," he writes.

In an interview for a previous article, Ameen said while the hospital board of trustees is aware of the proceedings, it is hospital management that makes the final decision with insight from medical staff.

Kraff disputes this, saying he thinks the board should have more authority.

"It's ultimately the decision of the board I would think," he said, "if it's like any community hospital I'm familiar with. The administration answers to the board as ultimately everybody does. The community owns the hospital but the board represents the owners. I hope they give it more consideration."

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or