Since DCH Regional Medical Center administrators made the decision not to renew their contract on January 20, Pinnacle Physician Group has spoken out against the hospital and continues to fight for their contract at DCH Northport.

Last month, a petition letter was sent by Alabama state Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, and signed by 110 doctors. The letter criticized DCH for favoring out-of-state individuals and entities for contracts and leadership positions over the last 10 years.

On Tuesday, the founder of Pinnacle Physician Group, Dr. Charles Abney, appeared on 95.3 The Bear's Steve Shannon Morning Show to discuss the future of DCH.

Abney said Pinnacle is doing great work in Northport, and even though DCH has problems, its Northport location does not.

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"This system says they need to make a change, and that is within the hospitalist services," Abney said. "We have a contract at Northport right now, our position is this: Northport hospital is doing fantastic. It is the shining star of the DCH Health System. In most metrics that you can measure hospitals in, Northport is doing wonderful."

Abney also mentioned that while Pinnacle does not have a contract at DCH's main hospital in Tuscaloosa, they do provide services there without compensation.

"We do not have a contract at DCH Regional," Abney said. "What happened was is that the [University] group had an exclusive contract, but they could not find enough manpower to do the work. So [in 2014], the administration at DCH Regional asked us to go over to DCH Regional and pick up the rest of the volume that couldn't be handled by the current group, and we've been doing that free of charge [for] DCH ever since."

DCH has put out a request for proposals to find another group to do hospitalist services. Abney talked about how they think DCH will choose an out-of-state group to replace them.

"If you look back over the last decade, that's the way the system is moving," he said. "Major decision after major decision that involves a big contract with physicians or executive leadership, they have chosen the out-of-state firm or out-of-state individual every single time over the last 10 years."

Abney says that having a local physician is important because they build a reputation with their communities and people know them.

"They have a following; usually [somebody] around you can give you some insight to that physician," Abney said. "Furthermore, when you look at out-of-state physicians, particularly like some physicians that come here, they bring in people [and] none of them live here. None of them get established here."

Abney added that "90% of the doctors that don't come to the hospital have chosen Pinnacle to take care of that patient" because they have built relationships locally.

For those who want to support Pinnacle's efforts, check out their Change.org petition here. Abney said they plan to present it to the board later this month.

"So the DCH board meets [on] the 20th, and [Pinnacle] wants to somehow convey a message at that point to them, whether we meet with them or we just provide the materials and the petition," he said. "The communication from the community between now and the 20th can be crucial into the success of keeping Pinnacle at Northport."

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