Physician recruitment top priority for hospital officials

By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor

Physician recruitment was on the minds of those attending Tuesday’s Roosevelt General Hospital board meeting.

With seven physicians in Portales utilizing RGH, Administrator James D’Agostino says one of his highest priorities is recruitment. He and Medical Chief of Staff Dr. Leslie Donaldson detailed the hospitals efforts and needs.

Donaldson said he’s still looking for the hospital to reach a critical mass of physicians that will ease the load on those already in the community.

“What we need are more physicians, not PAs (physicians assistant) or nurse practioners,” Donaldson said during Tuesday’s hospital board meeting. “We need more physicians willing to cover the 24/7 needs of patients ethically and regularly.”

Working with Covenant Health Care System Regional Administrator and Lovington Administrator David Shaw, D’Agostino went over several prospects with the board.

Discussion also strayed into the need to better staff the rural health clinics in Portales and Clovis the hospital oversees.

“I think the original vision of the Clovis clinic was good idea,” Donaldson said. “Tapping into the Clovis medical scene and funneling some of that business here is a good idea. We need to get back to better coverage though.”

Donaldson said medical staff is awaiting the outcome of some of the recruitment efforts before possibly committing current RGH doctors to staff the clinic for another day a week.

Shaw reported he had recently had conversations with other Covenant officials about referring patients sent to Lubbock to Portales and other communities for follow-up care. He said they are receptive to the idea with stricter limits on patient stays but having enough capable physicians was a concern.

In other business:

• The minutes of the July 22 meeting were amended at the request of board member Peggy Davis. She said the minutes indicated that she was excused from an executive session. She asked that it reflect that she was asked to leave the session.

“Excused makes it sound like I wanted to leave but I didn’t,” Davis said.

Board President Terry Cone said he didn’t think that any matter from executive session should be included in the minutes. The board voted to make the requested change however.

Cone said Davis was asked to leave because he was presenting details of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case filed on behalf of Davis, a former RGH employee, against the hospital. He said that otherwise he didn’t think it was appropriate to discuss the case in front of the plaintiff without attorneys present.

He said the case has since been dismissed.

• The board voted to put in place a new dress code policy that staff has been working on for several months.

•l Director of Patient Care Gayle Richerson told the board Gay Weese had been hired as marketing director and grant writer.

• Donaldson informed the board of discussions with a Lubbock urologist who will likely be at RGH for monthly clinic hours.

• Learned that the rural health clinic survey by the agency that administrates Medicare and Medicaid will be delayed until early October. That survey is needed to gain reimbursement for clinic charges.