NEWPORT NEWS — Riverside Regional Medical Center has credentialed 23 short-term anesthesia providers, with more on the way, a spokesman said.
"We are able to do every surgery we need to do," said Peter Glagola, Riverside's public relations director.
The hospital has performed more than 600 surgeries since April 7, when a contract with Virginia Anesthesia and Perioperative Care Specialists expired, he said.
Riverside replaced Virginia Anesthesia with Texas-based Soma Health Partners, prompting complaints and an investigation by the ousted anesthesiologists.
The local president, Dr. Paul Rein, questioned Soma's background in a YouTube video, and on April 16 Riverside cut ties with Soma, and Riverside Medical Group assumed anesthesia management.
The changes left 32 anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists from Virginia Anesthesia out of work, and Riverside scrambling to find temporary workers to fill their shoes.
A noncompete clause with Virginia Anesthesia blocks former anesthesia providers from returning to Riverside. So far, no one has asked to be released from the noncompete clause, Rein said. "If a former anesthesiologist comes to us, of course we would bring them back," Glagola said.
Almost all the former nurse anesthetists have found jobs. Five anesthesiologists are taking temporary assignments out of the area. Others are filling in at the other facilities that Virginia Anesthesia serves, including three plastic surgery centers, an ambulatory surgery center and Maryview Heart Center in Portsmouth, Rein said.
Some are also filling in at Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News and Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center — facilities also covered by other Virginia Anesthesia divisions.
For now, Riverside is staffed by 12 anesthesiologists and 11 nurse anesthetists. Contracts range from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, Glagola said.
"Our goal is to hire anesthesiologists that are permanent," he said.
That might take awhile, since there's a nationwide shortage of anesthesia providers and Riverside is a level 2 trauma center, said Dr. Asa Lockhart, co-founder of Golden Caduceus Consultants, a Texas-based firm that works with more than 130 anesthesia groups and hospitals across the country.
Lockhart, who consulted for Riverside about 10 years ago, said it's often more appealing to work at ambulatory surgery centers, which accommodate "healthier, more insured patients."
He also said quitting time might be early afternoon at an ambulatory surgery center, but it might not be until early evening at a hospital, and providers must be on call.
"It'll take months" to fill the Riverside jobs, he said. "It won't happen overnight."
What's the story? Riverside Regional Medical Center is rebuilding its anesthesia staff since replacing a local group April 7.