Irving, Texas-based NorthStar Anesthesia has taken over anesthesia services at Beaumont Health's three northern hospitals in Royal Oak, Troy and Grosse Pointe and associated ambulatory surgery centers and pain clinics, a move that angered some anesthesia nurses, surgeons and physicians when the contract was announced last summer.
With the consolidated contract, which began Jan. 1, NorthStar now offers comprehensive anesthesia services to seven of Beaumont's eight hospitals. Last August, NorthStar started managing anesthesia services at Beaumont's Dearborn, Taylor, Trenton and Wayne hospitals and their associated ambulatory surgery centers and pain clinics.
NorthStar replaced Anesthesia Associates of Ann Arbor for Beaumont's four southern hospitals and North American Partners in Anesthesia for its three northern hospitals. Both anesthesia groups worked at Beaumont for many years and a number of long-serving anesthesiologists left to practice elsewhere over objections to the contract switch.
"NorthStar is proud to serve Beaumont, a pillar of Michigan health care that is known for excellence and the highest standard of patient care," said NorthStar CEO Adam Spiegel in statement. "We are equally proud that the NorthStar team serving Beaumont will consist of so many fellowship-trained anesthesiologists and such a high percentage of the heroic (certified registered nurse anesthetists) who have been integral to Beaumont's COVID response and top tier surgical practices."
After an internal review in 2019 and early 2020, Beaumont decided to outsource its CRNAs and have NorthStar manage CRNAs and anesthesiologists at seven of its hospitals. Beaumont's eighth hospital in Farmington Hills, the old Botsford hospital, will continue to use employed Beaumont CRNAs and contract anesthesia team for the time being, Beaumont has said.
"Our Beaumont family is thrilled that so many of the existing team members at our campuses chose to join NorthStar. We look forward to each team member's continued contributions to help us deliver compassionate, extraordinary care every day to the patients we serve," said Nancy Susick, president of Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, in a statement. "From day one of the transition, NorthStar properly staffed these sites to meet patient needs and maintain our standard of care."
Beaumont and NorthStar said the national trend has been for hospitals to outsource CRNAs to work with anesthesiologists in the same company; however, few health systems in Southeast Michigan have outsourced the model to separate companies.
Henry Ford Health System, McLaren Health Care Corp. and Michigan Medicine directly employ anesthesiologists and CRNAs. Some systems, including Trinity Health Michigan, have mixed models where they outsource anesthesiologists and employ CRNAs.
Beaumont officials said they selected NorthStar because of its experience successfully managing transitions of anesthesia practices at more than 140 hospitals and medical centers. In 2018, NorthStar was acquired by Cranemere, a London-based holding company that invests in health care and other businesses firms, from TPG Growth.
In Michigan, NorthStar contracts with Spectrum Gerber Hospital in Fremont and has been contracting with Detroit Medical Center since 2015 after NorthStar acquired longtime DMC partner Anesthesia Staffing Consultants PC in Bingham Farms. DMC is owned by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp.
"We have been very pleased with NorthStar's smooth transition to Beaumont's South campuses since August," said David Claeys, president of the Beaumont Dearborn and Farmington Hills hospitals, in a statement. "NorthStar has recruited high-quality, new anesthesiologists and CRNAs to join our team and these have been great additions to join the incumbent staff at our facilities."
Several surgeons, who asked for anonymity, tell Crain's a different story. They say NorthStar has been slow to increase the numbers of anesthesiologists at several southern hospitals, leaving holes in surgery schedules and inconvenience to surgeons and patients.
However, Beaumont and NorthStar said they have been working hard to increase the numbers of full-time anesthesiologists and CRNAs at the southern Beaumont hospitals. They said the majority of anesthesiologists and CRNAs who were already working at these facilities wanted to continue serving Beaumont's patients and signed on with NorthStar.
Despite losing up to 20 veteran anesthesiologists in the transition with NAPA for Beaumont's northern hospitals, NorthStar said it has hired new anesthesiologists, including those with fellowship training in cardiac, pediatric, critical care and obstetric surgical specialties. Several are former Beaumont residents who NorthStar recruited back to Michigan from other medical institutions, NorthStar said.
"The NorthStar anesthesia team at Beaumont will continue to provide the high level of patient care Beaumont and our communities expect," said Dr. Romeo Kaddoum, a fellowship-trained cardiac anesthesiologist who serves as NorthStar's regional chief medical officer over its Michigan markets and facilities. He will also practice at Beaumont.
Kaddoum previously was at Detroit Medical Center, Ascension Health and McLaren Healthcare System.
But many Beaumont CRNAs objected to being outsourced to NorthStar based on what several said was inferior benefits and compensation compared with Beaumont. Officials for NorthStar and Beaumont refuted the objections and in the end more than 95 percent of CRNAs signed employment contracts with NorthStar, nurses told Crain's.
"Our team is grounded in Michigan and committed to serving our local communities. For example, the CRNA team has been vital to Beaumont's efforts during COVID-19, going above and beyond to help cover short-staffed shifts and provide ICU coverage during the surge. They are true heroes," added Christina Stevens, NorthStar's vice president of CRNA Services over its Michigan markets, in a statement.