NEWPORT NEWS — Riverside Regional Medical Center cut ties with the new anesthesia management company it brought on board April 7, and Riverside Medical Group took over management, effective Friday.
The decision was mutually agreed upon by Riverside and Soma Health Partners, the new management company, hospital administrator Patrick Parcells said Friday.
"This, we hope, will change the perception that Soma is a company that nobody understands, nobody knows," Parcells said.
But he said that "because of all the spin about the management company," it was in Riverside's best interest to terminate the contract.
Riverside ended a long-standing relationship with Newport News-based Virginia Anesthesia and Perioperative Care Specialists when the contract ended April 7.
Soma, as well as Compass Healthcare Group of Texas, have come under fire since Virginia Anesthesia president Paul Rein aired concerns about them in a YouTube video. Riverside originally indicated Soma was an affiliate of Compass, but Parcells said Friday that Soma is a independent company started by a former Compass employee.
Riverside Medical Group is made up of Riverside's employed physicians. Riverside assumed the contracts of the anesthesia providers recruited by Soma, and they were informed of the change Friday morning, Parcells said. The providers had all been credentialed by Riverside.
The hospital is getting calls from patients wondering what the anesthesia changes mean for them, he said.
"There's no reason to cancel surgery," Parcells said. "There's no reason to put surgery off."
For Riverside's 32 former anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists, a non-compete clause stands in the way of returning to work at Riverside.
When asked whether Virginia Anesthesia will release the providers from that clause, Rein said, "Everything is negotiable."
"I would suggest, with the current leadership that's there and the current way that they treated us, I'm not sure how many providers are willing to go work for the current administration," he said.
For months, Virginia Anesthesia had been working with Riverside on a new contract as the current three-year contract neared an end. The company found out last month that it had been replaced.
"Nothing at any point of our negotiations had ever led us to believe this was coming," said Dr. Karen Sickenger, who was in charge of anesthesia services at Riverside. "That was the shock value of it."
The Virginia Anesthesia division that provided coverage at Riverside also provided coverage at an ambulatory surgery center and several plastic-surgery centers.
The former employees are covering those and looking for work elsewhere, Sickenger said. One doctor is leaving the area, and some nurse anesthetists may be able to find positions within Hampton Roads, Sickenger said.
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The latest •Riverside Regional Medical Center parts ways with the anesthesia management company it contracted with April 7. •Riverside Medical Group takes over management and assumes contracts of the current anesthesia providers.Coming Sunday A Daily Press exclusive: Anesthesiology firm misled Riverside about affiliations.