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Medical Center management changes hands

by Christy Chalmers

Management of the emergency room at Minden Medical Center has officially been given to a private group that may eventually take it over.

Carson-Tahoe Hospital Trustees approved and signed the contract Thursday night, three months after Physician Select Management, a Carson City-based group, began operating the emergency room.

The 20-month contract requires Physician Select to operate based on a budget set by Carson-Tahoe, with the group meeting any deficits. If the group comes in under budget, the difference is to be split between Physician Select and C-TH.

Physician Select will be reimbursed for its operating costs, plus get a monthly management fee of 8.5 percent of fees collected and 10 percent of the operating costs.

C-TH Chief Operating Officer Ed Epperson said the agreement could possibly mean Physician Select eventually taking ownership of the emergency center. The contract has a clause saying Physician Select can take ownership of the emergency operation if it fulfills the agreement.

The urgent care facility opened in 1998 as a replacement to the Carson Valley Health Center, a clinic C-TH founded in 1981. It is located at Minden Medical Center, which also houses several medical offices, but the medical offices and overall complex are not affected by the agreement.

C-TH decided to lease the emergency center after experiencing significant and consistent operating losses. Epperson said Physician Select appears to be succeeding and the urgent care center has been averaging 22 to 25 patients a day, compared to 15 or 16 when the hospital was handling it.

The decision to lease the urgent care facility has diminished Carson-Tahoe’s direct presence in the Carson Valley, but the trustees are still planning to appoint a local advisory board. A previous liaison board that had been in place since 1981 disbanded after Physician Select was recruited, with members deciding their comments would be out of place addressed to a private group.

But C-TH leaders insisted they want a local group, and advertised for potential members.

Epperson said the search yielded seven or eight applications. He declined to divulge their names until the C-TH trustees decide how to interview the applicants, but did say none of the previous liaison board members applied.

The trustees are expected to take action on the prospective board members in November.