Powell, WY


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Courting doctors: Physician recruitment in full swing

After a long dry spell, the dam seems to have broken for doctor recruitment at Powell Valley Healthcare.



An emergency room doctor signed a contract recently and will start in September. PVHC has 11 doctors on staff now but one is departing soon.

In addition, it has two anesthesia specialists and two physician’s assistants.

The organization is recruiting to fill positions for two obstetrician/gynecology (OBGYN) specialists, an orthopedic surgeon, two emergency department physicians, two primary care (family practice) physicians, two hospitalists and a physician assistant, according to Bill Patten, PVHC’s chief executive officer.

The OBGYN specialists are needed to replace Dr. Roger Brecheen and Dr. Karla Wagner, both of whom alternated duty every other week while living in other Wyoming communities — Dr. Brecheen in the Jackson area and Dr. Wagner in Lander. Brecheen worked one week, and Wagner the next.

Both were unhappy with the arrangement and chose not to renew their contracts, Patten said. Brecheen left in June; Wagner will leave in August.

In addition, an ongoing search for a second orthopedic surgeon to practice here was set aside for a time. That search now is active once more.

Patten said he is hopeful that a contract will be signed this week.

More recently, Dr. Terry Reisner, a family practice physician, returned to Idaho, and Dr. Betsy Spomer, also in family practice, announced plans to resign this month.

A family medicine physician from Colorado is working to get a license in Wyoming, and Powell Valley Healthcare leaders plan to bring her onsite for an interview soon, Patten said.

She has family in the Big Horn Basin and wants to live in Powell. She is reviewing a contract.

Meanwhile, an OBGYN doctor from New York is reviewing a contract. His wife is finishing her family medicine residency in New Mexico and has expressed an interest in joining Powell Valley Healthcare as well, according to Patten.

Another OBGYN from North Carolina attempted to come to Powell for an interview last month, but had difficulty getting a flight, then got stuck in Chicago during stormy weather. Another attempt Sunday was successful, and he and his family are visiting Powell this week, Patten said.

A third OBGYN from another Wyoming community also has expressed interest in employment here. After two OBGYNs are hired, recruiting will begin for two certified nurse midwives, Patten said.

In the Emergency Department, Dr. Lynn Horton is the only remaining doctor from one year ago. Dr. Jeffrey Haskell left in December, Dr. Richard Thorne died unexpectedly of a heart attack in January, and Dr. Lisa Gwin left in June.

Those vacancies left the Emergency Department with only one of four ER doctor positions filled, but shifts in the Emergency Room have been filled by Horton and by locums, a term for traveling doctors, Patten said.

Mike Gilmore, vice president for outpatient services, told the Powell Valley Healthcare Board last week that Dr. Alex Cianflone has signed a contract and will begin work in the Emergency Department on Sept. 9.

Gilmore said another doctor, currently filling in at the ER as a locum, interviewed with Powell Valley Healthcare a few years ago for a family practice vacancy, but declined because he wanted to work in the ER.

He took a job in another Wyoming community, but expressed interest in joining Powell Valley Healthcare upon learning of the vacancies in the Emergency Department. That doctor went through the interview process last week and is reviewing a contract, Patten said.

Powell Valley Healthcare is courting two additional Emergency Department physicians, both in stages of negotiations.

Patten said Powell Valley Healthcare is looking to recruit two hospitalists — physicians who care for patients while they’re in the hospital.

Right now, if a nurse needs to consult or advise a primary care physician about an in-patient’s condition, the nurse has to interrupt the doctor in the clinic, Patten said.

A hospitalist is similar to an ER doctor, in that he or she is on call and available at the hospital at any time, he said.

“Nurses love hospitalists; after they get used to it, patients do, too,” Patten said. “It’s also a quality-of-life thing for primary care docs; their days are more predictable. It’s a win-win-win.”

Until hospitalists are hired, Patten said, PVHC primary care doctors — Dr. Michael Tracy, Dr. Mike Bohlman, Dr. Robert Chandler, Dr. Sarah Durney, Dr. Kelly Christensen and Dr. Valerie Lengfelder — have decided to start an internal hospital rotation system. While on duty at the hospital, they will not see patients in the clinic.

A hospitalist has expressed interest in joining Powell Valley Healthcare and has applied for a Wyoming medical license. He interviewed in January, but hadn’t decided then whether to take the job. Since then, the interview process has changed.

“Now we want him to go through a new interview,” Gilmore said.

Patten told the PVHC board in May that physicians have taken pre-employment interviews to a new level since attending training sessions hosted by the Studer Group, the organization helping with Powell Valley Healthcare’s “Journey 2 Excellence.”

“They’ve really stepped up to the plate,” he said. “Instead of saying, ‘Who can we get?’ they’re now saying, ‘Who will have the privilege of joining us?’

“Some doctors are saying they’ve never been interviewed like this before.”


  • posted by Mike Wilson

    July 09, 2013 9:05 am

    What can you say? The mess at Powell Valley Healthcare is speaking for itself. Directors and MD's are leaving (or left the last two years)in droves. Powell deserves better. Why are all these professionals leaving? Oh yes, it is to be closer to family for all of them-not that they want to get as far away from PVHC as possible. Smart-educated people know when to get the heck out!

  • posted by SuperSixOne

    July 05, 2013 12:49 pm

    Dear PVHC,
    Have you ensured that another Cardwell debacle will not happen again when it comes to recruiting medical staff for our illustrious hospital?

    P.S. Dear NSA, what is my wife getting me for my birthday?

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