New doctors group starts at ER;

After months of community concern about Envision Healthcare’s out of network billing practices, patients visiting Sutter Coast Hospital’s emergency department will be seen by a new physician’s group starting today.

Sutter Coast Hospital announced Monday that Sound Physicians will be staffing its emergency room in addition to continuing to provide inpatient services. According to a press release from the hospital, Sutter Coast has been working with Sound Physicians for about eight years.

“Over the years we’ve seen Sound Physician providers take on strong leadership roles in the hospital partnering with our staff to improve patient outcomes,” hospital CEO Mitch Hanna said in a written statement. “We are confident they are the right choice for our patients who seek care in our emergency department.”

At a Del Norte Healthcare District meeting Sept. 25, Ellie Popadic, the hospital’s director of ancillary services and business development, said Sutter Coast had not had any concerns with patients not having in-network providers through the hospital service Sound Physicians offered. She said Partnership, Medicare, Blue Cross are contracted with Sound Physicians and would be in-network.

According to the hospital’s press release, Sound Physicians has provided hospital medicine services for 17 years and has been providing emergency medicine service for about three years.

Sutter Coast Hospital issued a 90-day contract termination notice to Envision Healthcare, formerly known as EmCare, and reached an agreement with Sound Physicians in September.

The termination notice to EmCare came after the Del Norte Healthcare District, Crescent City Council and the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors, concerned about EmCare’s out-of-network billing practices, passed resolutions urging Sutter Coast to renegotiate its contract.

According to healthcare district Chairman Dr. Greg Duncan, who has been reviewing patients’ hospital bills during the 24 years he’s been practicing in Crescent City, Envision Healthcare had been charging $2,054 for its highest level billing code, which is about triple to what its predecessor, Valley Emergency Physicians had charged.

In September, Hanna told the Triplicate patients should not be getting out of network billing from emergency room physicians.

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