Patients to Sutter Coast Hospital’s emergency room will soon be seen by medical providers operating in-network for most local insurances.

The hospital issued a 90-day contract termination notice to Envision Healthcare, formerly known as EmCare, and has reached an agreement with Sound Physicians to operate its emergency department, CEO Mitch Hanna said Monday.

Sound Physicians are a national firm and have provided staff for Sutter Coast Hospital’s inpatient services for more than five years, Hanna said.

Sound Physicians also contracts with nearly every local payer, Hanna said. The hospital reached its agreement with Sound Physicians about two weeks ago, he said.

“Patients should not be getting out of network billing from the ER physicians,” Hanna said. “The charge structure is considerably less than the current provider.”

The Del Norte Healthcare District, Crescent City Council and Del Norte County Board of Supervisors have each urged hospital representatives to renegotiate its contract with Envision Healthcare since November 2016. Healthcare District Chairman Dr. Greg Duncan said patients have been bringing their hospital bills to him during the 24 years he’s been practicing in Crescent City and stated that Envision Healthcare has been charging $2,054 for its highest level billing code, which is about triple to what its predecessor, Valley Emergency Physicians, charged.

The request for the hospital to renegotiate its contract with Envision culminated in a joint resolution from the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors, the Crescent City Council and the healthcare district.

According to Hanna, even though the physicians group operating the emergency room will be different, he doesn’t anticipate a “big change” to the actual doctors providing care. There is also an advantage to having the same medical provider operate the ER and provide in-patient services, Hanna said.

“We’re really excited about the transition,” Hanna said. “In many hospitals where you have a different group in the ER and you have a different group in the inpatient (unit), there’s a lot of finger pointing about why is it taking so long for patients to get admitted. This will really afford us a great opportunity to streamline practices and improve our quality measures.”

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