PRESQUE ISLE — Beginning on Oct. 1, Northern Light AR Gould Hospital will partner with TeamHealth — a leading physician services organization — to provide emergency medical services in the hospital’s Emergency Department.
This decision was not made lightly, according to President Greg LaFrancois, but is the best choice for the hospital and for the community.
“Just like at many rural hospitals, it has been challenging to recruit permanent providers to our busy ED, requiring us to rely on ‘locum tenens’ or temporary providers to meet our needs. Working with TeamHealth, which has a proven track record in recruiting high quality, board certified providers, will benefit our patients,” said LaFrancois.
TeamHealth assists hospitals nationally in 48 states with healthcare professional staffing. The Northern Light Health system began partnering with the company a year ago to provide emergency and hospital medicine services at several hospitals within the system.
“They have performed very successfully at our sister hospitals downstate, and now those hospitals are no longer depending on temporary providers to cover shifts, allowing operations to run much smoother,” said LaFrancois. “Before bringing them to our campus, we were able to get a first-hand look at how they operate. Our ED providers were able to talk with colleagues in the state to determine what it will look and feel like to be employed by TeamHealth instead of Northern Light Health.”
John Thyng, PA-C, a long-time provider in the hospital’s emergency department, agrees that this transition makes sense.
“Our partnership with TeamHealth will help with maintaining a more stable pool of experienced Emergency Room providers. This will also allow AR Gould Hospital as a whole, and the Emergency Department in particular, to better focus on ways to improve patient care and the overall patient experience rather than spending time and money trying find temporary providers,” said Thyng.
Thyng, along with most of the hospital’s regular ED providers, have been hired by TeamHealth, so there will still be many familiar faces when patients go to the ED for care. That team will now be rounded out by other TeamHealth providers that will be more consistently at the hospital and soon become familiar as well.
When the transition to TeamHealth happened downstate last year, most questions and concerns involved billing and insurance coverage. To help alleviate that stress locally, there are some quick points that the hospital wants community members to know:
· Patients will begin getting two bills for an emergency room visit, one from TeamHealth for the clinician who provided the care and another from the hospital for all other aspects of the ED visit. This does not reflect any additional charges; these services have always been billed to patients but previously were grouped on one bill from the hospital.
· Regarding insurance, TeamHealth’s policy is to be in-network, and they are in-network for 90 percent of patient visits across the country.
· TeamHealth does not balance bill, and the hospital’s contract specifically prohibits it. Balance billing is when someone is billed for the difference between an actual charge and the insurance amount paid. Patients will not experience balance billing.
“This partnership with TeamHealth will help us provide consistent, quality care to our patients, while also being more fiscally-sound than relying on locums. This is a win-win situation for our patients, our ED providers and staff, and the entire hospital,” says LaFrancois.
The hospital and TeamHealth are working diligently to ensure the transition on Oct. 1 is seamless.