PORT ANGELES — On the eve of a change in emergency department providers, Olympic Medical Center sent out a press release vowing that it would be fully staffed today and referring to a long transition period before the new group takes over full management.
Sound Physicians, which OMC contracted to take over providing physicians for the hospital’s emergency department, won’t assume full management of the emergency services physician group until Oct. 1, according to the release issued late Wednesday by Ryan Hueter, spokesman for OMC.
“OMC and Sound Physicians will work closely together over the next three months leading up to Sound Physicians assuming full management of the emergency services physician group on Oct. 1,” Hueter said in the release.
“On July 1, Olympic Medical Center’s Emergency Department will continue to be staffed by fully credentialed emergency medicine providers, which will be comprised of some current ED providers and some additional, experienced ED providers,” he said.
“ED providers will be working on locum tenens (temporary) contracts for the time being while Sound Physicians recruits permanent Emergency Department providers among local and national candidates”.
OMC said it has signed several additional providers — all credentialed for providing emergency medicine — with locum tenens contracts to staff the emergency department during the months of July, August and September.
“This arrangement allows current providers the opportunity to continue working on a temporary contract while they consider long-term employment contract options,” said CEO Darryl Wolfe.
In a surprise announcement in early June, OMC said it was switching from Peninsula Emergency Services, Inc. (PESI), which was formed by doctors to provide emergency physicians to OMC and had done so for more than 30 years, to Sound Physicians.
The Port Angeles company, PESI, focused on recruiting and retaining emergency physicians to work at OMC, Dr. James Wallace, executive director for PESI, has said.
OMC did the billing and other administrative services, Wallace said.
These are services that OMC officials have said will be done by Sound Physicians.
Wallace has said that PESI would dissolve as of the last day of June.
No one from PESI could be reached for comment for this story.
PESI members have said that, on May 30, their impression was that they had reached a verbal agreement with Wolfe for a two-year contract renewal, and they knew no differently until June 8, when OMC announced it would contract with Sound Physicians, which has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Wolfe has said it was investigations concerning a doctor that led to the sudden change in emergency department services at OMC.
“We cannot discuss the criminal cases in detail as they are open and active cases. However, these criminal investigations are what initially prompted the regulatory visits to OMC. There was sufficient concern resulting from the regulatory agency investigations, that a change in medical group leadership needed to be made imminently,” Wolfe said earlier.
The decision to make the change from PESI to Sound Physicians was first discussed in a public forum June 15.
According to OMC Board Chair John Nutter, there were one-to-one meetings with board members and Wolfe, where the action was discussed.
Wolfe said the board did not need to go through a traditional bid process to make the change.
“OMC and Sound Physicians have a signed contract,” Wolfe said.
Hueter said that, during the extended transition, Sound Physicians will work closely with OMC on both physician recruitment and management.
“OMC is also working with local and regional agencies, including LifeFlight Network and Olympic Ambulance, to provide additional resource readiness over the 4th of July holiday weekend,” he said in the release.
“OMC has recruited a board-certified interim ED physician medical director to work during the transition period.”