Physicians critical of Arkansas hospital's switch to new staffing agency

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Medical Center of South Arkansas in El Dorado has selected a new provider of hospitalist and emergency department physician services despite objections from physicians, according to the El Dorado News-Times.

The hospital on Aug. 9 announced to staff plans to end its contract with SCP Health, an emergency room and hospitalist staffing company. Some physicians subsequently voted Aug. 12 against changing the contract. They also took a second no-confidence vote in the Medical Center of South Arkansas leadership that day, specifically calling out CEO Scott Street, who has resigned

On Sept. 1, hospital leaders shared with employees and medical staff members that it had selected Emergency Staffing Solutions/Hospital Care Consultants as its new vendor for hospitalist and emergency department physician services, effective Nov. 9, Alex Bennett, executive director of business development for Medical Center of South Arkansas, told Becker's.

"In the coming weeks, ESS/HCC will be working on their staffing plan, which we anticipate will likely include physicians who have served our hospital under SCP Health," said Ms. Bennett. "All current MCSA emergency medicine physicians and hospitalists will have the opportunity to meet with ESS/HCC to learn more about their staffing plans and positions available."

"We appreciate the professionalism of all physicians who are working in these roles today and anticipate a smooth transition over the coming weeks," she said. 

Vicki Gilliam, an attorney representing 11 medical center physicians, told Becker's in August that 12 physicians voted "no confidence" in Mr. Street Aug. 12, while three physicians in the room abstained from voting. Four of the 15 physicians who participated in the vote are SCP employees. 

"My clients report that the doctors on the medical staff believe that this [decision to end the SCP contract] was a retaliatory effort by CEO Scott Street aimed to undermine those particular physicians who are SCP employees for being vocal regarding his leadership style … a style which they believe has created a toxic work environment, resulted in poor quality of care to patients, and very low morale to employees," said Ms. Gilliam.

She also said her clients are concerned because no one has explained the basis of the vendor change, according to the News-Times

Ms. Bennett said the hospital has been considering and working toward replacing SCP Health since the beginning of 2021, and any characterizations that the decision was retaliatory are false.

The Aug. 12 no-confidence vote was the second one taken by physicians in recent months. Ezinne Nwude, MD, chief of staff at the Medical Center of South Arkansas, confirmed to the News-Times that some members of the medical staff voted no confidence in the hospital's leadership May 27. That vote included Mr. Street, who became CEO of Medical Center of South Arkansas in 2017 after serving as CEO of Nacogdoches (Texas) Memorial Hospital. Ms. Gilliam said the May 27 vote also included other administrators such as Chief Nursing Officer Amy Triplet, RN.

Mr. Street took a new role in Northwest Arkansas. His last day at Medical Center of South Arkansas was Sept. 3.  

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