Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center recently entered into an exclusive agreement with doctors from the Nebraska Heart Institute to provide cardiac care to patients, which means doctors from Bryan Heart will no longer see patients at Saint Elizabeth.
Technically, the Bryan doctors resigned from the Saint Elizabeth medical staff at the end of March, but according to a letter Bryan Medical Director Keith Miller sent to patients, they did so because the change "severely restricted the ability of Bryan Heart physicians to deliver effective care."
Both Bryan and Saint Elizabeth officials said the change affects a small number of patients.
"It was not a significant number of our patients," said Patrick Ganyo, chief administrative officer for Bryan Heart.
The few cases in which Bryan Heart doctors saw patients at Saint Elizabeth usually involved an unscheduled visit, such as emergency room trips. In those cases, patients could request to see their Bryan cardiac doctor.
Now, someone needing a cardiac procedure at Saint Elizabeth will be treated by a Nebraska Heart Institute doctor. If the patient is stable and prefers to be treated by his or her Bryan Heart doctor, a transfer will be arranged.
J Hoffman, interim marketing director for Saint Elizabeth, said the exclusivity will lead to standardized care and more efficiencies, not to mention better outcomes for the patients.
Nebraska Heart Institute doctors have been providing care at Saint Elizabeth since 2001, Hoffman said, but it's been in the past couple of years, since Saint Elizabeth parent company Catholic Health Initiatives bought the Nebraska Heart Hospital, that collaboration between the two has increased.
Hoffman said such exclusive agreements aren't unusual and are common nationally for specialties such as radiology.
Bryan Health has actually had a similar exclusive agreement with the Bryan Heart doctors for about seven years.