Why Denver Health is experiencing an exodus of physicians

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Denver Health Medical Center, the city's historic safety-net hospital and one of only a few Level I trauma centers in Colorado, is attempting to deal with a series of physician resignations, according to the Denver Post.

Most recently, three of Denver Health Medical Center's five neurosurgeons gave notice to leave the hospital by April 1. The hospital has also confirmed the head of emergency medicine and a top trauma surgeon will depart for other jobs.

Last year, physicians at the head of the departments of medicine and surgery left the hospital and have yet to be replaced. Additionally, the chiefs of ophthalmology and oral surgery resigned, along with six hospitalists, according to the report.

Some hospital staff have described the exodus of physicians as a crisis, voicing concerns regarding reduced operating room staffs, the hospital's ability to continue serving the poor and the condition of its partnership with University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, according to the report. At the same time, the community has questioned whether Denver Health Medical Center will be able to continue operating as a Level I trauma center.

Arthur Gonzalez, CEO of the Denver Health Medical Center, stated in a memo that the University of Colorado will provide neurosurgeons to the hospital to enable it to continue operating as a Level I trauma center. He acknowledged, however, that the medical center "is going through immense change" due to the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Gonzalez also said the hospital administration has recently implemented other changes, such as the dismissal of its chief clinical officer and agreeing not to alter its system for compensating physicians.

The physicians that have resigned over the last year have cited different reasons for leaving, and "it would be inaccurate to paint all of these people with the same broad brush," said Mr. Gonzalez, according to the report.

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