Protection sought for surgeons

Posted: Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Two South Peninsula Hospital surgeons have said they would be unable to continue operating at the facility without some financial assistance in acquiring malpractice insurance mandated by the corporation operating the hospital.

Today, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will hold a public hearing on Ordinance 2004-19-25, a measure appropriating $54,000 from the South Peninsula Hospital Service Area fund balance for that purpose.

South Peninsula Hospital Inc., a nonprofit corporation, contracts with the service area to run the day-to-day hospital operations.

The corporation is requiring physicians and surgeons to provide their own malpractice insurance, a requirement mandated by the hospital's insurance carrier.

The two surgeons now re-quired to post malpractice insurance had been exempt due to their long-term service history prior to the imposition of the new insurance requirement. The exemption no longer stands.

Karen Berg-Forrester, chair of the service area board, said the money does not amount to a subsidy for the two surgeons, but it does bring them to a par with the way visiting surgeons are covered. Visiting surgeons get compensation above their regular fees that is meant to cover their malpractice costs associated with services delivered while operating at South Peninsula Hospital.

The two surgeons, Drs. Rene Alvarez and Paul Sayer, will now be similarly covered under the hospital's blanket policy for work they perform in the hospital. They will remain responsible for their own malpractice insurance for all other services they perform, Berg-Forrester said.

"The insurance carrier said they would not cover us unless they (the doctors) were also covered," she said.

Also on today's assembly agenda is Ordinance 2004-19-27, which is good news for Bear Creek. The measure accepts and appropriates a $68,617 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant that will purchase basic rescue equipment and protective gear.

The rescue equipment will outfit a new rescue pumper truck making the vehicle fully operational and bringing it into compliance with federal safety standards.

The funds will cover the cost for such things as hand tools, accident scene lighting, a thermal imager, hoses and nozzles, a ventilation fan and a rescue saw, all of which would be placed on the truck.

The personnel gear will include Scott Airpacs with personnel alert safety system devices, redundant alarms, heads-up displays and universal rescue connections, according to Bonnie Golden, borough grants manager.

The grant requires a $7,624 matching grant from the service area's fund.

Also up for a public hearing is Ordinance 2004-19-22, which would appropriate $80,000 to cover costs associated with determining the value of the Tesoro refinery for property tax purposes.

Several ordinances are up for introduction today, which will get public hearings at the Jan. 4 meeting, including:

Ordinance 2004-19-28 would accept and appropriate a $75,000 state grant for construction of a road to the Cooper Landing Senior Housing site.

Ordinance 2004-19-29 would accept and appropriate a $2.47 million U.S. Department of Justice grant, and appropriate $1 million from Central Emergency Services, as well as an additional $240,000 from the general fund for construction of an emergency response center on Wilson Lane in Soldotna.

Ordinance 2004-19-131 would authorize purchase of a Dual Head Nuclear Gamma Camera for Central Peninsula General Hospital.

Ordinance 2004-19-32 would appropriate funds for a full-time public safety dispatcher position for the Soldotna Communications Center.

Ordinance 2004-38 would codify the adoption of the All-Hazard Mitigation Plan.

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