Montana clinic ends long-time anesthesia contract

Billings (Mont.) Clinic's contract with long-time anesthesia partner, Billings Anesthesiology, is set to expire on Feb. 9, according to a Feb. 7 report from local news affiliate KTVQ.

After contracting with Billings Anesthesiology for several decades, the hospital has decided to form its own fully staffed anesthesia department. 

The change is causing some concern among hospital employees, who fear that the loss of contract workers will create gaps in service as the hospital struggles to find workers, according to the report.  

The hospital has already been battling an anesthesiologist shortage, employees told the news outlet. 

Billings Clinic recently obtained the state's first level 1 trauma designation from the American College of Surgeons, meaning the hospital can accept emergency patients from across the region.

"Anesthesia was the only major service line that was not an employee of the clinic," Dusty Richardson, MD, president of medical staff, told the outlet. "So, bringing them on as members of the clinic really allows us to plan with them, offer better patient care and better patient safety."

To fully staff the department, Billings Clinic will need to hire 30 to 40 anesthesiologists. Until the department is fully staffed, Dr. Richardson said they will rely on traveling anesthesiologists or other contracted workers. 

"Just like any major change in healthcare, it's going to take some time," he said. "There's always growing pains, so do I think we'll be able to build? Absolutely." 

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