° empty

LeMay declines NRMC offer

NATCHEZ — Cardiologist Brad LeMay said Thursday he has accepted a job with Heart Hospital of Little Rock, Ark., and will be relocating to Hot Springs, Ark.

LeMay said last week he would be leaving the area after being unable to negotiate a contract with Natchez Regional Medical Center that both parties found satisfactory. The doctor had until today to accept the contract offer NRMC made him last week, an offer he said was less than he was given when he relocated to the area in 2010.

LeMay and the hospital’s administration also disagreed about how much time he should have off, and last week the doctor said he was unhappy with the hospital for an apparent decision not to contract with Jackson Heart Clinic for backup coverage. LeMay was employed by Jackson Heart’s Natchez location through a partnership with NRMC.

“I took a position (Wednesday) in Hot Springs,” LeMay said. “I sent (the hospital) a text asking if they had any other proposals, and they didn’t bother to answer that.”

The hospital’s contract with Jackson Heart Clinic runs out at the end of the month. NRMC Chief Administrative Officer Donny Rentfro said he reached out to Jackson Heart’s chief executive officer earlier this week.

While LeMay worked for Jackson Heart, he was an independent cardiologist when he came to Natchez, and the hospital later developed the relationship with the clinic, Rentfro said.

“We can see that relationship continuing, and that is the conversation I had with their CEO Tuesday,” he said. “We discussed a variety of options.”

A spokesperson for Jackson Heart Clinic did not return a phone message Thursday.

Rentfro said he does not know when he will hear back from Jackson Heart about the discussions with its CEO.

Regardless of the outcome of those discussions, local doctors will be able to refer patients to Jackson Heart, he said.

Meanwhile, Rentfro said the hospital is working with a physician recruiting firm that knows the Natchez market.

“Cardiology services are certainly important to us and will continue to be important, and we look to grow those in the future,” he said.

“Working with those recruiters that certainly understand cardiology, they are well-informed on the different levels of practice, and we discussed the catheterization lab and the services we currently provide with our certificate of need and what opportunities we may have for growth in the future.”

While the hospital is looking for a cardiologist, Rentfro said the catheterization lab would remain open to perform other procedures that are currently being scheduled there, including pain management services and peripheral vascular procedures.

“The cath lab will not sit idle, and we are in the recruiting efforts and are working very hard to get a cardiologist in very quickly,” he said. “The hope is to provide interventional procedures in the not-too-distant future.”

“The key takeaway is we absolutely will have a cardiologist and will continue the recruitment effort — quality is the top priority and being a good match to the community.”