Unspecified number of physicians have sought employment elsewhere post agreement
GILLETTE, Wyo. — Campbell County Health insists a number of physicians who left in the wake of an agreement with Aligned Providers Wyoming did so of their volition.
The agreement in question was officially announced earlier this month and was characterized by CCH as an attempt to strengthen both their emergency department and the organization’s hospitalist program, which will now be staffed by APW.
“Our local press has been helpful in identifying some rumors regarding the changes to our emergency and hospital medicine programs,” CCH said in an Oct. 25 release. “We want to ensure the community that we serve has the facts regarding this transition.”
According to the release, no CCH staff members were asked to leave their positions because of the APW transition. Emergency and hospitalist physicians currently working at CCH received employment offers at their current pay rate, the release said. The health organization hoped to retain all existing physicians, it said.
“Some clinicians chose to take positions elsewhere after hearing about the change,” CCH said. “We thank them for their service to our community and wish them the best.”
The hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the specific number of physicians that chose to walk rather than seek employment through APW.
Healthcare organizations across the United States have been hard-pressed to find and retain medical professionals, according to a report published by Forbes.
A study published by the Association of American Medical Colleges projected a shortfall of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033 on the tail end of a downward trend spanning two decades that was fueled most recently by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Per AAMC, the number of people in the U.S. over the age of 65 is expected to increase by 45.1% in the next 15 years, while the entire population is only expected to grow by 10.4% during that period, and seniors tend to require more specialty care compared with young adults.
According to the Robert Graham Center, a health-centered research organization, Wyoming is no exception to the shortage and was found in a physician workforce projection to be in need of an additional 104 primary care physicians by 2030.
The projection said the ratio of residents to physicians in Wyoming was 1654:1, which at the time of the report was higher than the national average based on population trends in 2010.
“Staffing challenges at CCH are not unlike those we see across the country,” CCH said in its statement. “However, it is important to note that the emergency room and hospital medicine programs will be fully staffed. CCH is committed to maintaining the number of ED providers and hospitalists needed to provide high-quality care to our community.”
With APW taking over management of CCH’s emergency department and hospitalist programs, there will be some changes to the staffing model that residents may be used to, CCH CEO Matt Shahan told County 17 earlier this month.
The new model, in accordance with APW’s modus operandi, relies heavily on nurse practitioners and physician assistants rather than physicians.
According to Shahan, APW’s methods would mean doctors in the emergency department and on the hospital floor would have more time to focus on more seriously injured or ill patients while nurse practitioners and physician assistants would handle the others.
Shahan did not know how many physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners would be coming on board at CCH through APW.
As of Oct. 27, contract negotiations between CCH’s emergency department physicians and hospitalists and APW were still ongoing.