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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, January 02, 2018 1:00 am

6 GI doctors back with Lutheran

Physicians had rejected linking pay to quality metrics

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

Six gastrointestinal doctors have returned to work after a contract dispute with Lutheran Health Network, a network spokeswoman said. 

“We are pleased that these physicians who have a long history of providing care for the community have resumed patient care and will be supporting Lutheran Health Network's work to strengthen and grow this service line through development of the Advanced Digestive Treatment Center, a dedicated care setting for patients with digestive issues,” Alice Robinson, the health network's vice president of planning and marketing, said in an email Saturday. 

The doctors, who Lutheran officials have not identified, previously rejected new employment agreements that tied 5 percent of their compensation to quality metrics and patient outcomes. The doctors wanted that percentage lowered, Lutheran Health Network said.

Attempts to reach the doctors have been unsuccessful.

Gastrointestinal doctors treat diseases of the digestive system including the esophagus, stomach, intestines and liver. The diseases they treat include cancer, acid reflux and liver disorders such as hepatitis, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease. 

At the time, Lutheran officials expressed disappointment in the doctors' decisions. 

“We are focused now on recruiting new highly skilled GI physicians who hold the physician-patient relationship to a higher standard and want to work collaboratively with us to advance quality and provide the best possible patient experience,” officials said in a statement shortly before Christmas. 

Last year, a group of 10 doctors affiliated with the network signed a letter of no confidence against Lutheran owner Community Health Systems.

The doctors then failed in an attempt to persuade CHS to sell the network to an investment group approved by the doctors. CHS said the offer of $2.4 billion was too low.

CHS then fired Lutheran Health Network CEO Brian Bauer and later sued him, accusing him of breach of contract.

dgong@jg.net