The Coast News Group
Palomar Health
Palomar Health announced on June 21 that they “have reached an understanding with Emergent Medical Associates (EMA) and Benchmark" regarding emergency personnel for its medical centers in Escondido and Poway. Photo courtesy of Palomar Health
CitiesEscondidoEscondido FeaturedNews

Palomar Health responds to concerns over new emergency care provider

ESCONDIDO – Palomar Health leadership is responding to doctors and critics of the hospital’s decision to switch to a new emergency care provider who said that the change will reduce staffing, which will increase doctor workload and reduce the quality of care.

The hospital announced on June 21 that they “have reached an understanding with Emergent Medical Associates (EMA) and Benchmark to provide emergency physicians, hospitalists, intensivists and related support personnel for Palomar Medical Centers in Escondido and Poway beginning in August 2021.”

The new agreement means an end to the hospital’s arrangement with Vituity Healthcare & Medical Staffing Services, a medical group that has managed Palomar’s emergency care provider for more than 40 years.

“The proposal submitted by EMA was chosen based on their established best practices to improve care efficiency through the use of advanced dashboards and statistical analysis. Using their proven model, EMA will decrease patient wait times, shorten discharge times and improve diagnostic testing processes among other positive throughput changes,” said a representative for Palomar Health.

Palomar’s original statement about the change indicated that this move was also about saving money.

“Our community and patients expect us to be good stewards of our resources,” said Diane Hansen, Palomar’s chief executive officer. “EMA’s proposal allows us to retain our staff, plus reinvest saved resources to upgrade patient care.”

A representative for Palomar Health told The Coast News that patient safety will remain a top priority and patient lives will never be put at risk.

“The volume of patients per physician will remain the same and will be closely monitored to ensure quality outcomes. Physicians will not be asked to see more patients than is safe,” Palomar Health said.

Regarding the sentiment that medical doctors may be replaced by physicians assistants, Palomar Health said that is not the case.

“There are no plans to replace an MD with a PA or any other allied health professional (AHP). This accusation is false and stemmed from an initial example that EMA presented to the medical team without knowledge of our current staffing. Once the medical staff voiced their concerns, the draft was eliminated and a plan that mirrors our current staffing practices was proposed and will be implemented. The medical staff will continue to have oversight of staffing models to ensure quality.”

“Although a tough decision, Palomar Health must continually look for ways to improve patient care and address staff concerns. This transition will provide the hospital system an opportunity to treat patients with the highest quality of care in the most efficient manner,” the hospital said.

EMA and Benchmark gave the more than 100 affected doctors through last Wednesday to decide whether or not they intend to leave Vituity for the new group. According to reports, the majority of those doctors that would be affected have not yet signed on.