Community Medical plan for replacement trauma docs fails to materialize

Fresno’s largest hospital, rated a Level 1 Trauma Care Center, has been without 24-hour trauma coverage for more than a week.

Fresno’s Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) entered Labor Day weekend without neurosurgical trauma coverage following a contract expiration with a physician group that provided six neurosurgical physicians providing 24-hour on-call trauma care.

The group, Central California Faculty Medical Group, accounted for a total of 28 physicians whose contracts were not extended. Many serve as faculty for Fresno’s UCSF satellite campus.


Last week, Community Medical Centers (CMC) President and CEO Craig Castro said he was hopeful the hospital would restore the coverage by last Friday.

But that never happened. 

Last Friday, Central California Emergency Medical Services Director Dan Lynch said the hospital was planning to bring in locum physicians from Southern California over the weekend to provide temporary coverage in the absence of a new contract with CCFMG. 

Come Tuesday, however, the hospital still does not have neurosurgical coverage. 

In a statement to The Sun, Community did not say if the plan for the locum physicians from Southern California is still in place. 

“We worked diligently over the weekend to address CCFMG’s concerns,” said Michelle Von Tersch, CMC Senior Vice President of Communications and Legislative Affairs. “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.”

CCFMG said it submitted a proposal to cover neurosurgical trauma for the immediate future until a funding agreement can be finalized, but failed to come to an agreement on that proposal, even though lengthy negotiations were held Saturday. 

“Our trauma team had five attending trauma surgeons, a senior resident and trauma fellow, many of whom came in on their day off, to take care of patients,” said Dr. James Davis, Chief of Trauma at CRMC, in a statement. “This community needs these invaluable services at CRMC, and the Creek Fire should have made that abundantly clear to hospital administration. 

“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. 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.”

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