A hospital in Elgin, Illinois, lost its designation as a Level II trauma center after terminating a contract with their long-standing anesthesia provider. This disruption in anesthesiologist services has led the health facility to divert emergency cases to other hospitals and reschedule elective surgeries.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) alerted the region’s emergency medical services of Advocate Sherman Hospital’s status change Friday, September 24, a IDPH representative told Medscape Medical News in an email. The agency did not disclose why the Sherman hospital’s status was revoked but noted that additional information would be made available after “review of responses from the hospital concerning the emergency revocation.”
Level II centers can initiate care for all injured patients and have 24-hour coverage by general surgeons as well as coverage for specialties like anesthesiology, radiology, and orthopedics. The downgrade means that the hospital cannot receive seriously injured patients requiring immediate emergency care, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“This is all a contract-driven problem,” Brian Birmingham, MD, president of the Illinois Society of Anesthesiologists, told Medscape Medical News. “We look at it as an unfortunate situation that we hope will soon be rectified.”
Advocate Sherman Hospital ended a long-standing contract with their previous anesthesia provider, United Anesthesia Associates, in late August after the provider group demanded a 300% increase in pay, according to a statement from the hospital. The new team of anesthesiologists, TeamHealth, will take over October 1, according to the Chicago Tribune.
But physicians at Sherman are concerned that this temporary shortage could carry on for up to a year. In an Elgin city council meeting on Wednesday, September 22, Tom Stanley, MD, MPH, vice chair of surgery at the hospital, noted that there are currently no permanently employed anesthesiologists at the hospital, and that TeamHealth does not have any providers currently licensed to practice in the state of Illinois, according to the Daily Herald . Medscape Medical News was unable to reach Stanley, and his employer, OrthoIllinois, declined to comment.
In a statement after the council meeting, Advocate Sherman Hospital noted that the new anesthesiology team is currently being onboarded “as we work to return to full capacity services in the near future. In the meantime, we continue to care for all patients who arrive through our Emergency Department in addition to labor and delivery services and some urgent and elective procedures.”