Doctors at suburban hospital worried at lack of anesthesiologists; full services promised in ‘near future’

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ELGIN, Ill. — Doctors are frustrated at a west suburban hospital due to a lack of anesthesiologists forcing last-minute surgery cancellations for patients.

Obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Christine Estes and Dr. Jeness Barthel said they are deeply distressed at Advocate Sherman Hospital’s situation.

“Dr. Barthel and I actually have four major surgery scheduled for next week and we still don’t know if we’re going to be able to do those surgeries,” Estes said.

Elective procedures were suspended earlier this month due to a shortage of anesthesiologists. The hospital claims United Anesthesia Associates, a private practice that worked with the hospital for three decades, wanted a substantial increase in pay.

This past weekend, the situation caused the emergency room to be put on bypass. Doctors recently sounded off in a city council meeting.

“We still do not have any permanently employed anesthesiologists at the hospital. Emergency coverage is being done by people from Florida and Texas and all over,” Dr. Tom Stanley said. “It’s a little bit crazy that not only do we not have an entire month with anesthesiologists, but the new company doesn’t have any anesthesiologists to start on Oct. 1.”

In a statement released Thursday, the hospital said the group demanded a raise of “nearly 300% increase in pay.”

Read their full statement below.

“The health and safety of our patients is our top priority. “Unfortunately, after several months of negotiations, we had to make the decision to change anesthesia providers; the financial terms represented a significant increase to the previous contract.”

We are pleased to share that a new, high quality anesthesia team is being onboarded as we work to return to full capacity services in the near future. In the meantime, we continue to care for all patients who arrive through our Emergency Department in addition to labor and delivery services and some urgent and elective procedures. Physicians should continue to work with local medical directors to provide alternative locations to ensure timely care for every person.

For patients that had a surgery postponed or re-scheduled and may go to an alternative location outside our system, we are committed to working with them to mitigate any potential financial impact as a result of out-of-network insurance coverage.

We apologize for the inconvenience this transition has caused for our patients, physicians and team members.”

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