M.D. anesthesiology added at ARH

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Beginning this week, surgeries performed at Andalusia Regional Hospital will be directed by an anesthesiologist.

Hospital CEO Rebecca Brewer made the public announcement at Rotary Tuesday, when she had as her guest Dr. Keith Johnson, medical director for AmCare Group, LLC, with whom ARH has partnered in this venture.

In the past, a team of certified registered nurse anesthetists has administered anesthesia. Going forward, those nurses, who have master’s level certifications, will be directed by a physician.

“This group is highly qualified,” Brewer said, “and they have been with Andalusia Regional Hospital for about 10 years.”

She said her decision to bring in M.D. anesthesia was a result of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s policies for reimbursement. Because the nurse anesthetists were not under the supervision of a physician, ARH did not receive $650,000 in reimbursements last year, she said.

“As we have worked to recruit new surgeons, not having a physician in charge of anesthesia has been a deal breaker,” she said.

Dr. Johnson explained that surgery will now be coordinated using a patient care team model. Prior to scheduled surgeries, in the preadmission process, potential problems will be identified and anesthesia will be planned accordingly. The two doctors who’ll be on staff will be looking for potential problems with the heart or liver, and any previous adverse reaction to anesthesia.

“People are familiar with intensive care units,” Johnson said. “Think of us as an operating room ICU.”

Brewer explained that the doctors will run the surgical program like air traffic control, keeping the flow of scheduled surgeries running smoothly and, hopefully, avoiding delays.

“Every patient who comes through will be optimized,” he said. “Hopefully, there will be no delays or cancellations. This should be a win, win for everybody involved.”

Opp native Jim Weeks founded AmCare Group, LLC, which also has similar contracts with three Georgia hospitals.

Oneonta native Dr. Max Jenks will be one of the two medical doctors overseeing the local program, and is expected to be on staff in two weeks. A second physician also is being recruited, but has not yet contracted with AmCare.