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NCH leaders face tough questions over policy impacting personal physicians

NCH leaders face tough questions over policy impacting personal physicians
Posted at 6:18 PM, Dec 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-19 18:18:57-05

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — A controversial program at NCH Hospitals in Collier County have many people in the community fired up, and Wednesday morning, they made their voices heard. NCH hosted a forum to discuss a pilot program that has staff hospitalists overseeing patient care in three of NCH's twelve hospital units.

Some of the dozens of people who attended the forum at NCH's North Collier hospital Wednesday believe the program is an infringement on their relationships with their doctors.

"I am here because I am extremely concerned about this initiative from NCH," said Dave Kramer, a retired emergency physician. "I feel it is unfair to those of us who have concierge physicians that we trust, and who know us as well."

But NCH president Dr. Allen Weiss said that the pilot program, which began in June, has been getting positive results - with patients getting released from the hospital earlier than normal, and reducing the need to be re-admitted.

"Better quality, and not to get a better response? Wow," Weiss said. "I apologize for under-communicating what we were doing, because we never anticipated this. We anticipated the opposite."

Dr. Bryan Murphey, Chairman of the Physicians Group at NCH, said primary care doctors will still have access to their patients in the hospitalist-run units.

"They have a choice whether they want to be part of the pilot project in three units, or if they want to do their traditional care with the other nine units," he said.

But Tim Norbeck of Bonita Springs is concerned that personal physicians will be little more than visitors in the hospitalist units.

"Will that physician be reimbursed?" Norbeck asked. "The answer I got is 'no.' The hospitalist will be reimbursed."

Dr. Weiss said he hopes to share the data from NCH's survey supporting the hospitalist program within the next several months, after it has been checked by a third party.