More than 100 doctors and Alabama politicians have signed a petition asking Tuscaloosa's DCH Health System to hire in-state medical practitioners instead of contracting with physicians from elsewhere in the country.

Alabama Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton issued a press release Wednesday asking leadership at DCH to reconsider its decision to terminate contracts with the Pinnacle Physician Group and University Hospitalist Group, two local hospitalist companies that provide services at both DCH Regional Medical Center and DCH Northport.

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Pinnacle has worked with DCH for 15 years, and their contract is set to expire this September.

Now, DCH has issued a Request for Proposals as they prepare to enter a new hospitalist contract going forward, and a representative for the System said DCH's goal is to work with a single hospitalist management company for continuity of care.

"At DCH Health System, our patients are our top priority," said Andy North, DCH's Vice President of Marketing and Communication. "Our decision to move to a single hospitalist management company is driven by our commitment to doing the right thing for our patients and the community we serve. The request for proposal that we’ve announced is the best, fairest, and most objective way to choose a hospitalist management company. It’s a level playing field."

 

The concern from Pinnacle, Singleton and the signees of the petition is that DCH will award the contract to an out-of-state provider.

Singleton's press release cites seven different instances in the last 10 years in which DCH has contracted management of some of its services to an out-of-state group or hired an out-of-state candidate to a leadership position when there were qualified local alternatives passed over for the opportunity.

"Now, it appears the DCH Administration intends to contract hospitalist services across both DCH Northport and DCH Regional to one company," Singleton said in the release. "The DCH Administration says it does not have any company in mind for the contract and the current local groups may apply. However, the actions over the past decade raise doubts and concerns."

Singleton also noted that DCH receives funds from municipalities and other government entities to help the hospital system serve West Alabama, and argued that money should stay within the Yellowhammer State.

 

“We are constantly looking for ways to get more physicians and medical service providers to train and work in Alabama. However, when hospitals use all out-of-state providers it is counterproductive to the needs of the community,” Singleton said. “I fully support the efforts to correct this process by the Pinnacle Physicians Group.”

READ THE FULL LETTER HERE

The petition asking DCH to reconsider its decisions and to "reconnect with local talent" is signed by Singleton, State Representative Chris England, three former DCH administrators, five area attorneys and 100 different doctors.

SEE ALL 110 SIGNATURES HERE

A separate petition created by Dr. Charles Abney, the founder of Pinnacle Physician Group, has earned more than 1,400 signatures.

For more information as it becomes available, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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