TRMC anesthesiologist says group dissolving due to decrease of surgeries

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Dr. Anthony Vierra has been an anesthesiologist at Tulare Regional Medical Center for about nine years. (KFSN)

Dr. Anthony Vierra has been an anesthesiologist at Tulare Regional Medical Center for about nine years. He currently runs a group called Tulare Anesthesia Associates, which contracts with the hospital.

But that group, made of up four anesthesiologists, is about to dissolve-- because Dr.Vierra is quitting.

"I think I'm getting out of here at a great time-- for me," Vierra said.

Vierra says while the stipend the hospital gives them has stayed the same, the amount of money his group receives from surgeries has been cut in half, due to a decrease in surgeries at the hospital. He noticed the drop off last November.

"For whatever reason, the surgeries like went in half and it stayed that way since then," Vierra said. "Initially one or two months (is) whatever. But once it had gone on three or four months I said, 'Uh oh, it's not going to change.'"

That's when Vierra says he told hospital administrators something needed to change, but nothing did, so Vierra gave his notice. He has about a week left and says of the three other anesthesiologists, one may stay and form a new group.

"When we lose a lot of surgeons, especially if they're busy surgeons, which they were, that makes a big difference," Vierra said.

"We felt that there are other groups that can provide better services that more in line to the needs of Tulare than this particular group," said Healthcare Conglomerate Associates Chairman Dr. Benny Benzeevi

Dr. Benzeevi said it's not uncommon for hospitals to part ways with contract groups, and look for one that is more in line with its needs. He admits hospital volumes have decreased, but not as much as Dr. Vierra believes.

Dr. Benzeevi blames the drop on the same group of protesters that disrupted Tuesday night's board meeting, who demanded Senovia Gutierrez replace Dr. Parmod Kumar, who was recalled earlier this month.

"But the hospital definitely has suffered...because of the subvert and unwarranted and unfounded negativity perpetrated by this small group," Benzeevi said.

Dr. Vierra will continue to practice somewhere else in the Valley, but he's going to take a vacation first.
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