Palomar Medical Center

‘Someone is Going to Suffer': Palomar Health Doctors Upset Over Change in Emergency Personnel Provider

Hospital says change will save money and improve efficiency

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There’s a contentious dispute between Palomar Health’s executive staff and its doctors, over a change in the company that provides the hospital with emergency personnel.

Palomar’s Chief of Staff says the change will reduce staffing, which will increase doctor workload and ultimately reduce the quality of care.

“Someone’s going to suffer and it’s going to be the patient. Mistakes will be made, physicians are going to be tired, this is the formula for physician burnout,” said Doctor Sabiha Pasha.

Palomar Health is finalizing contracts with Emergent Medical Associates to preplace Vituity, which provides medical personnel, including hospitalists (doctors) and intensivists.

Palomar Health’s Chief Medical Officer concedes, the change in contracts is a business decision that will save money, but it will also increase efficiency.

“That money is reinvested into the hospital system for things like patient experience, patient care, things like CT scans, and MRIs. You need those things, and you need to be able to invest to provide great patient care,” said Doctor Omar Khawaja.

Impacted workers will be required to sign on with the new provider Emergent Medical Associates. While Pasha says many doctors have no intention of signing on with Emergent and will likely leave, Khawaja says the majority will stay.

“The physicians that provide the great quality of care are still going to be here. Every single physician is being offered a job. We don’t expect a single thing to change,” Khawaja said.

So why make a change at all? Pasha says it’s an effort to ultimately reduce staffing.

“Why would you change if our quality has been the best it has ever been. Think about that,” Pasha said.

Earlier this week, in a strong show of discontent, Palomar’s doctors gave a no-vote confidence to Palomar’s executive leadership.

“What we’re doing is impacting the overhead that was going to a large national corporate overhead system. Taking away money for that, it doesn’t affect your patient care because it’s not affecting the direct patient caregivers,” Khawaja said.

Palomar Health says it’s committed to keeping current staffing levels for at least 90 days. It's what happens after that, causing concern for staff.

The change is set to take place in August. It will only impact hospital services and not family doctors and practitioners.

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