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Friday, May 6, 2022 3:52 PM

NEWS RELEASE: Lawsuit update for Sept. 2020 neurosurgeon walkout


From: Community Health System
May 6, 2022

Today, Community Health System filed a motion to expand a lawsuit related to the September 2020 neurosurgeon walkout and originally filed in Fresno Superior Court last fall.  
Community Health System takes seriously our responsibility to assure that critical care services are always available to our community. Many of our provider contracts, including those for specialty physicians necessary to respond to trauma cases, include lengthy notification periods prior to termination in order to assure health and safety of patients who needed trauma services.
The original complaint states that, with less than two days’ notice, Central California Faculty Medical Group’s CEO announced they would stop providing call coverage at Community Regional Medical Center. This abrupt action jeopardized the Region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center and forced the hospital — during the COVID-19 pandemic — to transfer critical neuro patients out of Fresno and to urgently locate replacement neurosurgeons.
Community filed an amended complaint to include Central California Faculty Medical Group (CCFMG), University Neurosciences Institute (UNI), and Joyce Fields-Keene, CEO of CCFMG and UNI. The original complaint included Scott Wells, Executive Director of Santé Health System, as well as Community Regional Medical Staff Medical Group (CRMSMG).
Based on a review of the facts, the amended complaint states that Ms. Fields-Keene misled and misinformed the medical group’s board members and conspired with Mr. Wells, her fiancé, to prevent the hospital from providing lifesaving trauma care. As stated in the complaint, “Ms. Fields-Keene falsely told CCFMG’s Board that [the hospital] had been provided appropriate notice that the neurosurgeons would cease providing call coverage.” The complaint goes on to say, “They blatantly sought to put public health and human lives in jeopardy in a callous effort to needlessly tarnish [the hospital] and to secure financial benefits for themselves.”
The complaint states that Community is pursuing the lawsuit because “[t]he leaders of these organizations cannot be allowed to abuse their authority, manipulate their organizations and threaten the health and safety of the community.”
Craig Wagoner, Community’s chief operating officer, said, “Community values our excellent relationships with the physician community. The growth of our independent medical staff — which has doubled over the past 20 years — reinforces our shared commitment to patient care. Unfortunately, in this instance, the leadership of key physician groups violated their patient care commitments and the trust of the community — that we can’t tolerate.”
Community’s lawsuit requests a jury trial and seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.

View the complete amended complaint