Alaska hospital announces gaps in general surgery coverage

June 4, 2017

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — A Ketchikan hospital has announced it will not have a general surgeon on staff for a week.

The PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center’s only general surgeon will be out from 8 a.m. Monday through 8 a.m. June 12, the Ketchikan Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/2qPZ5IB ). The hospital is alerting other health care providers, cruise lines and outside facilities that typically recommend people to the hospital of the situation.

Patients in need of a general surgical procedure such as appendectomy or perforated colon during that time period will be transported to another facility, medical director Dr. Peter Rice said.

“Those cases will all have to be medevaced if ... they were emergent,” he said. “Occasionally there’s urgent things, like if a gallbladder is irritated and needs to be removed in a week or so. Those cases we can handle separately.”

The hospital’s emergency room will still be fully prepared and staffed during that time and will be able to stabilize patients before they are transferred. OB-GYN surgeons and orthopedic surgeons will also be available.

The hospital has been working to fill its general surgery coverage after the death of one of its two general surgeons, Dr. Eric Garcia, in mid-March. A new general surgeon, Dr. Julie Conyers, will begin working at the hospital July 24.

There should be no gaps in general surgery coverage between June 12 and Conyers’ first day, Rice said on Friday.


Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com