Lewiston hospital loses all four trauma surgeons

Posted June 01, 2012, at 8:59 a.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — All four of Central Maine Medical Center’s trauma surgeons have left the hospital or will be gone in the coming weeks, requiring one of the state’s three trauma centers to rely on temporary doctors to fill the void.

Three surgeons left CMMC recently and the fourth is scheduled to leave in June. They were not fired.

It is unclear exactly why the four doctors decided to leave, though Chuck Gill, spokesman for Central Maine Healthcare, CMMC’s parent organization, said in an email that “CMMC has had a professional disagreement with the departed surgeons for reasons that are an internal personnel matter.”

Gill said CMMC’s trauma program continues to run, staffed with visiting surgeons.

“The news is the trauma program is unaffected by this,” Gill said Thursday. “It’s ongoing. It hasn’t changed at all.”

Trauma programs care for the most severely injured emergency patients. In Maine, three hospitals — CMMC, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and Maine Medical Center in Portland — have trauma centers. CMMC and EMMC are also home to LifeFlight’s two emergency medical helicopters, which are often used to transport trauma patients to the hospital.

The surgeons who have already left CMMC are Carlo Gammaitoni, Anita Praba-Egge and Ian Reight. Praba-Egge and Reight are still listed on CMMC’s website as trauma surgeons. Gammaitoni is not.

Gammaitoni had served as director of CMMC’s trauma program. That position is being filled temporarily by Larry Hopperstead, who founded the program in the 1990s and led it for years before leaving CMMC to work at Rumford Hospital, a Central Maine Healthcare affiliate, in 2010.

Gill declined to identify the trauma surgeon who will leave in the coming weeks, saying he did not want to comment on any doctor currently working there. However, CMMC’s website lists Kevin Price as a trauma surgeon with the hospital and as a member of CMMC’s Central Maine Surgical Associates.

Praba-Egge and Price could not be reached for comment. Gammaitoni and Reight declined to comment Thursday.

CMMC has hired a consultant from Massachusetts General Hospital to oversee trauma program development, educational programs, quality improvement and physician recruitment. Gill declined to say how much the consultant will cost the hospital.

“We view the collaboration agreement with MGH as an investment at a nominal cost,” he wrote.

Trauma centers receive verification — similar to certification — through the American College of Surgeons. CMMC’s verification expires June 11 and its program was scheduled to be revisited. CMMC has requested a deferral.

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