Originally created 03/16/05

Banned doctors suing hospital



WAYCROSS, Ga. - Ten cardiologists banned from using Satilla Regional Medical Center equipment and facilities have sued the hospital for reinstatement and more than $5 million each in damages.

The suit filed this week in Ware County Superior Court names as defendants the Ware County Hospital Authority, Satilla Health Services Inc. and Chief Executive Officer Robert Trimm.

The physicians are George S. Pilcher, Mariano Mikulic, Ernst Phillips, Carlos Alosilla, Samer Garas, Jay Patterson, Brett Sasseen, William Pilcher, Carlos Leon and Timothy Walsh, some of whom have had privileges at the hospital since 1989. All are members of Diagnostic Cardiology Associates and affiliated with St. Vincent's Medical Center in Jacksonville, Fla.

Like one filed earlier by cardiologists Willie Bell and Joel Ferree, the suit asks Judge Dwayne Gillis to issue a temporary restraining order and ultimately a preliminary injunction allowing the physicians to resume their practice at the hospital.

Judge Gillis issued a preliminary injunction in the previous suit, and Dr. Bell and Dr. Ferree are again seeing patients in the hospital.

The Satilla Health Services board adopted a resolution Feb. 23 banning the 10 cardiologists from using "the facilities, space, equipment and personnel" of Satilla. The board asserted it was merely implementing its exclusive contract with Baptist Medical Center and Baptist Specialty Physicians Inc. in Jacksonville for cardiology services at the hospital.

In a statement, Satilla officials said they had been expecting the suit.

Satilla Regional and its board of directors have an obligation to the residents of the service area to provide around-the-clock cardiology coverage, the statement said.

"It is imperative that we partner with an organization and physicians committed to meeting that need. We believe that Diagnostic Cardiology Associates does not, nor have they for many years, demonstrated that commitment," the statement said.

Baptist Medical Center is committed to providing that service, the hospital said.

The decision of Dr. Bell and Dr. Ferree to separate from the group in 2001 demonstrates that fact, the hospital said.