Business · Fresno

Community on the clock: EMS sets 48-hour deadline for hospital to restore trauma coverage

Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is facing a Friday deadline to fix its lacking neurosurgical trauma coverage. 

In Fresno County’s public health briefing Wednesday, Central California Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director Dan Lynch said he and Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra notified the hospital administration that EMS will remove CRMC’s Level 1 trauma center designation at Friday at 5 p.m. unless the coverage is reestablished. 

“We feel as though we’ve given them plenty of time to fix the problem, and we’re just concerned  that it’s ongoing and that they still have this designation,” Lynch said. 

The 24 hour on-call neurosurgical coverage stopped on Sep. 2 at midnight, when a contract between Community Medical Centers (CMC) and the Central California Faculty Medical Group (CCFMG) expired. 

That contract was for 28 physicians employed by CCFMG to work at CRMC, including six neurosurgical doctors that provided the necessary trauma care for the hospital to maintain its Level 1 trauma center status. 

Since the coverage lapsed last week, 21 patients – as of Tuesday – have been transferred to other hospitals out of the area, CRMC Chief of Trauma Dr. James Davis confirmed. 

“Now we’re looking up the process of having to transfer patients out of the county, out to other areas like San Jose or the Bay Area, when they used to get their services here,” Lynch said. “That’s a little frustrating, because we’d like to keep patients local, but that’s how it’s going to work right now until we can get this solved and get moving.” 

Without a new contract in place with CCFMG, CMC turned to locum physicians from Southern California to fill in and provide the necessary coverage. 

However, that plan has not yet worked out for the hospital. 

“The problem is they can’t seem to secure enough people to provide that level of service on a consistent level of basis,” Lynch said. 

In a statement to The Sun on Tuesday, CRMC was hoping to reestablish neurosurgical coverage by Wednesday or Thursday. 

By Wednesday evening, however, the coverage had not been restored, giving CMC less than 48 hours to either come to an agreement with CCFMG or find enough locum physicians to fill in. 

“It’s very unfortunate. It’s not just an impact to CRMC,” Lynch said. “This is an impact to our community and to the other hospitals, because a lot of the hospitals depend on the services provided by CRMC. And that may sound a little unfair, but CRMC really has become the go-to place. They’ve done such an excellent job of providing these levels of services, not just as a trauma center, but as a large hospital system that has the services available to them.” 

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.