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6 Investigates: Spohn contract raises questions of transparency

Posted: 3:13 PM, May 02, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-27 14:00:17-04

While a couple of dozen local anesthesia professionals look for new jobs, we’ve had a hard time digging up any information about
the "national firm" called "Emergenc" chosen by Christus-Spohn to replace them.

And it’s concerning some healthcare professionals who say anesthesia is one of the riskier facets of healthcare.

"With the drugs we use, we could kill a healthy person within minutes," says Mary Dale Peterson, M.D. Peterson is 1st Vice Chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

Spohn President Justin Doss made the announcement via internal memo in early March.

The memo, sent to Spohn executives, board members and medical staff, announced that, after a bidding process, the hospital was going with "Emergenc" over the existing provider, "Gulf Shore Anesthesia."

Gulf Shore is a group of about 30 M.D.’s and 15 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA).

The Doss memo says Emergenc will continue to deliver the same level of care, for less cost.

Dr. Peterson has never heard of them.

"I have never heard of them, I’m pretty familiar with all the national groups."

Neither has Dr. Girish Joshi, of the Texas Society of Anesthesiologists. Joshi tells 6 Investigates the interplay between surgeons and anesthesia teams is critical. Therefore, knowing who is on the team is essential.

And yet, Joshi, who practices at Dallas Parkland and is a Professor of Anesthesia at UT Southwestern Medical School, has never heard of "Emergenc."

"I have never heard of this group called ‘Emergenc.’ I asked around and could not find anyone else who had heard of them, either."

We finally did find Emergenc, here ,  in the Medicare and Medicaid Center’s National Provider Registry.

It’s not "Emergenc," it’s "EmergencHealth."

The listed owner, a Dallas-based pulmonologist named Jeffrey Link. The primary practice address is someone’s home.  

We tracked Link down to a small Dallas-area hospital. Link confirmed the contract with Spohn but, when asked to give more details as to Emergenc’s medical team or makeup, Link said he’d been instructed by Justin Doss to run all questions through the hospital.

But, the hospital isn’t answering specific questions. See the attached email string between 6 Investigates and a Spohn spokesman.

Joshi, who read a transcript of the emails, says the hospital’s lack of transparency is disturbing.

"I was surprised that they were elusive with respect to who this group is."

Dr. Peterson says it’s information anyone who asks, should get. That’s because it’s more than a business decision, it’s a healthcare decision.

"When seconds count, you know, you wanna have a physician that has those hours and years of training."