Published on June 22, 2020

LMH Health, LEMA working on new framework for emergency and hospitalist provider contract

LAWRENCE – LMH Health has stopped its current contracting efforts with Envision Physician Services in an effort to reset and reopen open conversations with Lawrence Emergency Medical Associates (LEMA).

LMH Health and LEMA have renewed their effort to work together and develop mutually beneficial terms for the management of emergency department and hospitalist services. Hospital leadership hopes to reach an agreement on an arrangement that enables the current physicians to remain practicing at LMH Health through LEMA in a way in which is sustainable for both parties.

“We are pleased to be back in conversations toward a goal we both shared throughout this process: providing great care for our community through an arrangement that supports our physicians and advanced practice professionals in remaining here,” said Russ Johnson, President and CEO of LMH Health.

Johnson said he hopes that the basic terms for a letter of intent could be reached over the next three weeks. Then, further details of discussion from legal counsel will be required for each party.

Last Friday, the LMH Health Board of Trustees endorsed a plan to pause current contracting efforts with Envision Physician Services, in line with a request from the Medical Executive Committee. The reset gives hospital leadership time to communicate with the committee, clarify miscommunication and reopen dialogue with LEMA.

Dr. Scott Robinson, a Lawrence physician who founded LEMA and serves as its president, met with Johnson yesterday and reexamined the LEMA proposal for services, identifying new opportunities and creating a collaborative approach going forward. As a result, the two organizations are drafting a framework for new deal terms.

“This has obviously been a tough road with some detours, but that’s not always surprising in the challenging world of health care,” said Robinson. “I told Russ that if we weren’t getting sideways with each other from time to time, we wouldn’t be doing our job. It’s good to be seeing this come together.”

When this outline is reviewed and approved by both LEMA and LMH Health, both groups will communicate the pathway forward, including a joint meeting among leadership from the medical staff, LEMA, and LMH Health board and administration.

“This will hopefully allow all parties to have greater specificity on both process and terms that are mutually agreeable for this contract and other future contracts,” said Johnson.

LMH Health leadership is hopeful that their original goal to continue to work with the providers of LEMA in a new contract model that is fair to all can be achieved.

“We have said from the beginning that we want to keep our local providers and LEMA in a way that is sustainable for both parties,” said Johnson. “I’m encouraged that we are getting to that place together.”

Robinson said the LEMA providers are grateful for the support they have received from the medical staff.  “We appreciate the unbelievable support of our community,” said Robinson. “But this is Lawrence, Kansas, and it’s no surprise its residents would speak out.”  

At Friday evening’s Board of Trustees meeting, which was spurred by an enormous amount of feedback from providers and the community, board chair Cindy Yulich opened the meeting by saying the Board of Trustees received this feedback with an open mind, as has the senior leadership team.

“Pressing pause on this process is not easy to do, especially in an industry where forward motion is so critical, and in a community hospital where every penny counts,” said Yulich. “Still, it’s the right choice.  I’ve served as a board member through Russ’ tenure, and I’ve always found him to be an incredibly strategic and thoughtful leader. His capacity and vision is unparalleled. He moves quickly, and he’s led a tremendous amount of absolutely crucial growth in an extraordinarily short amount of time. So when Russ suggests slowing down, I take note. We have an opportunity to recommit to open, transparent dialogue. Those of us here tonight care about this hospital, and we care about this community. We care enough not just to slow down, but to stop right here, and contemplate our path forward.”

Johnson said on Friday that his purpose was to reset the conversation.

“It’s been so visible, the passion this community has for this hospital; I’ve recognized that as a strength, especially the support and appreciation they have for our medical staff, which we as leadership completely share,” said Johnson. “I shared with the board earlier this week the notion of using principles to navigate difficult decisions. Over the last couple of days, I would amend those principles to include loyalty and community. The feedback we’ve received is an expression of this community’s feedback, appreciation and loyalty. I want to be sure we are giving that full measure, and full consideration.”

Johnson said the reset provided the opportunity to reengage by communicating clearly and listening carefully.

“Let’s connect with our medical staff with a renewed commitment,” said Johnson. “Let’s continue to seek common ground in support of our physicians and our local partners, with our very best efforts. I want there to be a solution we can all support – one that recognizes the principles and challenges that are upon us, and that are upon our colleagues. The community clearly wants that, and we are a community hospital and we will remain a community hospital. As we seek to reconnect, I will continue to do my best to value our principles and move this hospital forward in a way that everyone—including our community and our providers—feel proud of.”


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LMH Health, LEMA working on new framework for emergency and hospitalist provider contract