Washington hospital cuts ties with anesthesia group

St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., has cut ties with an anesthesia group that has been facing staffing and recruiting challenges, according to an April 20 report from The News Tribune. 

A spokesperson for a union representing hospital workers told the news outlet that anesthesiologists have been leaving the hospital, part of Tacoma-based Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, for months. Two sources tied to the health system on condition of anonymity told The News Tribune that Pacific Anesthesia is the group whose contract was terminated. 

"It has impacted patients and healthcare workers at St. Joe's," Tom Geiger, a spokesperson for UFCW 3000, told the news outlet in an email. "There are alot of unknowns right now," he said in reference to surgeries at the hospital. 

In emailed comments to Becker's, the health system did not confirm Pacifica Anesthesia was the group affected, but said the situation does not affect anesthesia contracts at other Virginia Mason Franciscan Health facilities, and that surgeries at St. Joseph's have not been delayed. 

"It is exclusive to St. Joseph," the health system said. "As an integrated system, we've been able to avoid delays in surgeries by leveraging resources from our other hospitals and bringing on temporary anesthesiologists." 

Pacific Anesthesia did not respond to The News Tribune's request for comment, though workers have told the news outlet the group has had difficulty recruiting anesthesiologists for some time, in part because new graduates are more drawn to the Seattle and Portland areas. In a series of interviews, past and current employees of the group also cited a high proportion of Medicare and Medicaid patients at St. Joseph as another factor in staffing challenges, given low reimbursement. 

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