Erlanger Health System’s stroke program in danger after contract dispute with radiology group

A contract dispute between Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Erlanger Health System and Tennessee Interventional and Imaging Associates (TIAA) is threatening to upend the hospital’s premier stroke program, according to documents obtained by the Times Free Press.

The Free Press reports that letters sent to Erlanger’s Board of Trustees show the system plans to terminate an exclusivity contract with TIAA—which has provided interventional and diagnostic radiology services for Erlanger since 2014—if the radiology group doesn’t agree to contract amendments giving the Tennessee system more control of the group and potentially making room for Erlanger trustee Blaise Baxter, MD, to provide interventional radiology services at Erlanger East Hospital.

According to the report, Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel has been pressuring TIAA to rehire Baxter since he resigned from the radiology group in January 2018. After talks fell silent, Erlanger sent a Jan. 7 termination notice to TIIA on the basis of financial concerns.

"All of these meetings and conversations in 2018 revolved around the resignation and hiring of an Erlanger Board of Trustee member," a letter, obtained by the Free Press to board members states. "TIIA can only conclude that the notice of termination has less to do with finances and more to do with Dr. Baxter's resignation from the group and Erlanger's insistence on rehiring him."

The Times Free Press is reporting that a letter to Erlanger leadership says the radiology group increased patient revenue by 23 percent over 2017 to 2018, and a third-party audit found no issues with TIAA’s practices.

"We are having ongoing, productive discussions with Erlanger's leadership and are hopeful that we will reach a resolution very soon so that TIIA can continue providing the top-quality care Erlanger patients expect and deserve," Justin Calvert, MD, chief of radiology at Erlanger and TIIA partner told the Times Free Press.

If the contract between the parties were terminated, 50 employees could be out of a job, the article states, including radiologists, nurses and other staff.

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