TMH still recruiting full-time surgeon |

TMH still recruiting full-time surgeon

In the two years that The Memorial Hospital has been recruiting a general surgeon, there have been many qualified applicants, others who were interested, but none who have made a perfect fit.

The search for a full-time surgeon continues with the help of a professional recruiting firm. In the meantime, hospital officials are making strides toward seamless coverage of surgical duties.

Dr. David James, the general surgeon who announced his plans to leave the position in October 2003, offered coverage for two weeks a month for three years.

He said he knows how difficult it is to fill the position, which is why he agreed to remain for three years.

Last month, TMH contracted with Dr. Joe Livengood, who will temporarily work two weeks a month to offset the part-time services provided by James and Dr. Allan Belshaw.

“He’s good,” TMH Director of Community Relations Pam Thompson said. “We’d love to have him full time.”

Livengood hails from Greeley. He’s worked at TMH before and Thompson said he was well-received by staff and patients.

He’ll hold office hours at the hospital’s Yampa Avenue medical clinic.

He’ll start around Sept. 15.

Another fill-in will be Dr. Scott Sulentich, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who works in Steamboat and Denver.

The details of his schedule aren’t available yet, but he’ll begin providing some services in Craig at the end of September.

“He’s a great doctor,” Thompson said.

Part of the hospital’s medical staffing plan is to recruit more specialists, which could alleviate some of the pressure on general surgeons. Officials are speaking with a potential oncologist this month.

“We’re really working on getting some specialists in here,” Thompson said.

Interim administrator Susan McGough said there is currently a candidate who could offer full time general surgery services. The candidate has been to Craig and the board is considering whether to invite her for a second interview.

The board has made it to the second interview on several occasions and has had candidates working temporary contracts to get a feel for the fit.

“It’s a long process to get a candidate on,” Thompson said.

Even with a growing need, the board has declined candidates.

“We really want to make sure we have the best candidate,” Thompson said.

Former TMH Administrator Randy Phelps said general surgeons are in high demand and several Colorado hospitals have positions to be filled.

Phelps has said the hospital is seeking a surgeon with a completed residency in the past five to 10 years and someone who would enjoy living in a rural setting.

Filling that position could save the hospital thousands in outsourcing surgical services, he said.

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