by Jessi Turnure
Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway has partnered with UAMS since 2016 to offer emergency room and orthopedic services.
“UAMS is giving an unfair advantage to Baptist Conway,” Lori Ross, Conway Regional’s chief development officer, told the Joint Performance Review Committee. “Are they really meeting a community need or are they meeting a business need?”
Before Conway Baptist added five orthopedic surgeons to its team, Ross argues Conway Regional had eight orthopedic surgeons on its staff.
“There clearly was a need that was not being met in that community,” said UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson. “That’s incontrovertible.”
Of its 165 contracts with providers, UAMS has one agreement with Conway Baptist. Since it started, Patterson said surgeons have performed a thousand surgeries, generating about $15 million. He could not say how the hospitals split the revenue, but once lawmakers ballparked $10 million to Conway Baptist and $5 million to UAMS, he did not dispute it.
“Facility fees are always higher than professional fees,” Patterson said.
UAMS also has a contract with Conway Regional, a continuing education agreement.
“Frankly, we’re an equal opportunity offender in the Conway market,” Patterson said.
“If they came to us and asked us to do the orthopedic cases that came in to Conway Regional Hospital, we would have the same conversation,” he continued. “There is nothing exclusive about our relationship with Conway Baptist.”
However, Conway Regional argues the Baptist contract is unfair because UAMS, a taxpayer-supported teaching hospital, supplies doctors to its rival.
“The state needs a strong UAMS,” Ross said. “We want UAMS to be strong. The majority of our physicians have received their education from UAMS. Where we have a problem is when they use their resources then to compete with the physicians who have graduated from there earlier and to compete with us as a hospital. That’s where things don’t seem right.”