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Most ER docs stay at Lowville hospital despite group change

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LOWVILLE — Visitors to Lewis County General Hospital’s emergency department won’t see an immediate change, despite a switch in physician groups.

Nearly all of the emergency room doctors have decided to remain at the facility, at least for the time being, and work under the auspices of NES Healthcare Physicians Group, according to a release from the county-owned hospital.

“We are committed to providing a highly qualified physician team to serve the patients who come to Lewis County General Hospital emergency department for care,” hospital CEO Eric R. Burch said in a statement.

Drs. Daniel R. Cappon, Robert M. Harryman and Jon R. Hager, all members of the former North Country Physicians, as well as former hospital-employed ER doctors Todd Howland and Christopher Black, are continuing to work at the facility under NES, which took over staffing of the department Jan. 1, according to the release.

A fourth member of North Country Physicians, Dr. Sean P. Harney, decided to retire.

NES Healthcare Group, which was founded in 1975, is expected to hire additional physicians to ensure full-time emergency coverage is maintained, the release said.

“NES plans to continue to maintain the collaborative relationships with local fire and ambulance services and is also committed to reducing patient wait times and enhancing the overall patient satisfaction,” group spokesman Morrie Maple said in a statement.

The emergency department, which averages 12,000 patient visits per year, “looks forward to continued growth while serving you and your health care needs into the future,” the hospital release states.

Officials at the hospital last year initially sought to add a hospitalist service — providing doctors to handle after-hour admissions and inpatient care — in conjunction with emergency room physicians, and sent requests for proposals in late July for a group that could handle both duties.

In response, North Country Physicians, which for years had contracted with the hospital for emergency department physician services, submitted its resignation, indicating the group was opposed to the idea of combined coverage and would not have the resources to provide the services requested.

Hospital officials ultimately decided to contract separately with Rural Physicians Group for the hospitalist service, which started Monday, and NES for emergency department physicians.

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