Dear Palomar Health Community,

There has been much speculation and misinformation around the transition of contract physician services at Palomar Health hospitals. As part of our commitment to the community, it is important to provide the most accurate information regarding this topic of interest. 

First, the community should know the hospital quality of care will remain the same and second it does not affect your primary care physicians or specialists in any way. Only emergency, hospitalist and critical care physicians, who see patients exclusively in the hospital, are impacted by this contract change, which is approximately 150 of 900 physicians who practice with Palomar Health. 

State law prevents hospitals from directly employing doctors, which means practicing physicians must be employed by another organization. The hospital contracts with these organizations to staff physicians. Palomar Health made a strategic business decision to change the organization it contracts with to staff emergency, hospitalist and critical care physicians in its hospitals. This means physicians currently employed by Vituity must contract directly with the new physician staffing organization of record (Emergency Medical Associates (EMA)/Benchmark) to remain working at Palomar Health. 

It is our hope that all current physicians will continue working at Palomar Health, and all those wishing to stay have been offered their same positions with comparable pay. A number of current physicians have already expressed written intent to continue providing care in our hospitals and we are increasingly optimistic that the majority will continue working with us. While we hope to retain each of our current physicians, if that is not possible, EMA/Benchmark will recruit and hire new physicians to work in our hospitals, just as they do in many sites throughout the region. The high level of quality care our patients have come to expect will not change.

The strategic decision to change physician service providers was made to ensure we are continuing to provide the best possible service for our patients. The contract was put out for public bid, and after careful consideration of the top three proposals, the Palomar Health executive team recommended to the citizen-elected board of directors, to vote to retain the services of EMA/Benchmark. By a 4 to 2 vote, the board approved moving forward with a new physician services contract provider as of August 2021.

EMA/Benchmark was chosen as the best choice for our patients and community due to their industry-leading analysis tools that will help reduce patient wait times, expedite the time spent in the hospital, and make discharges more efficient. The cost savings from these improvements will then fund more equipment (e.g. MRI machines and CT scanners) along with other investments that will improve patient satisfaction.

The contract proposal and analysis process transpired over several months, was completely transparent and offered every physician services provider an equal opportunity. There is no truth the new contract will increase the number of patients the physician is required to see; those decisions will remain with the medical staff, not administration. There is also no truth to the rumors of Palomar Health being taken over by another company; by law those discussions must be public. Finally, there is no truth patient care will be negatively impacted; to the contrary, the new service provider is committed to helping us achieve our mission to become the health care system of choice for everyone in the district.

Patients, quality and community will never be put at risk and providing world-class patient care has always been and will continue to be our top priority.