Atrium Health says an ad campaign by its former anesthesiology contractor is causing it to lose patients. The health system added this new allegation to its lawsuit against Mednax, which still employs doctors that work at Atrium through the end of June.
Atrium Health ended its relationship with Mednax and its subsidiary Southeast Anesthesiology Consultants after they couldn’t agree on a new contract. Mednax, the public company with more than 4,000 doctors nationwide, has put ads in local newspapers, on the radio and online that say Atrium is cutting anesthesiologists out of the operating room, which the hospital system said is false. Atrium said the ads are causing patients to seek care elsewhere. Caught in between are more than 90 doctors in Charlotte who won’t be able to continue working at Atrium because of non-compete agreements.
Mednax CEO Roger Medel told investors in an earnings call last week that the company wouldn’t let those doctors out of their contracts.
“The answer is no, we are not letting them out of their non-competes," Medel said. "We are protecting our physicians. We are trying to find jobs for them elsewhere, we are looking for ways that we can help them.”
Atrium CEO Gene Woods told reporters at the end of April that the health system would like to be able to retain the physicians. He also said he believed the ad campaign was an attempt to get Atrium back to the negotiating table, but that door was closed. Atrium said the new anesthesiology group, Scope Anesthesia of North Carolina, has hired enough doctors to continue operations.
Mednax called Atrium's updated complaint "propagandized rhetoric" and nothing new. It questioned how a new company hiring new doctors would be ready to take over July 1. An Atrium spokesman said as part of the onboarding process, nurses and other medical staff that will work with the newly hired anesthesiologists have been meeting and going through operating room simulations.
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