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Despite a weekend of negotiations, and in the shadow of the Creek fire, Community Regional Medical Center and its physician provider — Central California Faculty Medical Group —still haven’t come to a resolution.

This means anyone with head trauma requiring neuro-surgery after hours must be sent to another level 1 trauma center as far away as the Bay Area or Sacramento. Neurosurgeons are still staffing normal business hours. The 24-hour call coverage is what’s in dispute and lapsed when the contract ended early last week.

“We worked diligently over the weekend to address CCFMG’s concerns,” said Michelle Von Tersch, senior vice president for communications and legislative affairs for Community Medical Centers, in a statement. “While we hoped to restore neurosurgical trauma coverage with CCFMG, we also have worked simultaneously to seek alternate coverage. We expect to have neurosurgical trauma coverage restored in a day or two.”

“We worked diligently over the weekend to address CCFMG’s concerns.” — Michelle Von Tersch, senior vice president for communications and legislative affairs for Community Medical Centers

CCFMG says the importance of preparedness and an ability to respond to those in a crisis moment like the Creek fire was paramount.

“We are deeply disappointed that when given a clear opportunity to solve the immediate neurosurgical trauma coverage crisis, senior hospital leadership refuses to finalize any sort of bridge funding agreement,” said Dr. James Davis, chief of trauma at CRMC and chief of surgery at UCSF Fresno.

“Allowing coverage to lapse during the busy holiday weekend is detrimental and reckless. CMC said they would solve this crisis by bringing in locum physicians from outside of the area. However, bringing in neurosurgeons from outside of the region instead of negotiating with your long-term partners and the neurosurgeons who are already providing the care for Valley patients is baffling.”

“Allowing coverage to lapse during the busy holiday weekend is detrimental and reckless.” –  Dr. James Davis, chief of trauma at CRMC, chief of surgery at UCSF Fresno

CCFMG says that while negotiations were ongoing well into Saturday, a solution was not reached.

Backup Staff Coming From Los Angeles

Friday afternoon, Fresno County EMS Director Dan Lynch was told by CRMC it would not have neurosurgical coverage heading into the weekend. The hospital was scrambling to bring surgeons from Southern California.

The lapse in coverage stems from a contract covering 28 physicians in 12 specialties that ended Monday. Six of these physicians are UCSF faculty who provide the 24-hour neurosurgical trauma coverage required for CRMC’s level 1 trauma center’s designation.

The doctors continued working, but CCFMG said that after 5 p.m. Wednesday patients with head trauma would be diverted to the nearest level 1 trauma center.

So far, there has been no reclassification of CRMC’s level 1 trauma center status, according to Lynch.

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