San Francisco Business Times: John Muir foundation signs 11 cardiologists, after others align with Stanford

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San Francisco Business Times: John Muir foundation signs 11 cardiologists, after others align with Stanford  

John Muir Health's medical foundation has signed up 11 cardiologists, the first heart specialists to join the foundation, officials at the nonprofit hospital system said Tuesday.

The new medical foundation members include physicians at the eight-doctor Cor Cardiovascular Specialists Inc., based in Walnut Creek, the two-physician Arrhythmia Specialists Inc., in Concord, and Brentwood-based Dr. Walter Savage.

Overall, the John Muir Health Physician Network includes 963 independent and foundation-based physicians, Muir spokesman Ben Drew said Tuesday, including 166 in its medical foundation.

Medical foundations can employ physicians, but hospitals themselves cannot, under California's corporate practice of medicine law.

Muir has John Muir Medical Center campuses in Walnut Creek and Concord, where many of its cardiovascular services are centered.

Back in August of 2012, Stanford Hospital & Clinics’ physician network — known as University HealthCare Alliance — nabbed the East Bay’s Cardiovascular Consultants Medical Group Inc., which has five offices and 22 specialty physicians.

That group previously had close ties to John Muir Health, and its affiliation with the Stanford Hospital physician network was seen as a blow to Muir. But Drew says John Muir still has 50 cardiologists on staff at its two medical centers, "the same number as (in) August 2012."

The decision by Cardiovascular Consultants "told us what we already knew," Drew said late Tuesday, "that there was also interest in an employment model among specialists, specifically cardiologists, in our community."

Along with Walter Savage, other cardiologists joining forces with John Muir include Doctors Michael Brown, Richard Chang, Andrew Dublin, Gary Gershony, Paul Ho, Perkin Shiu, Hennessey Tseng, Susan Eisenberg and Carleton Nibley. Eisenberg and Nibley came from Arrhythmia Specialists.

Cal Knight, John Muir Health's president and CEO, emphasized Muir's commitment to "a mixed-model physician network where independent physicians continue to be welcome" along with doctors who prefer being part of an integrated medical group.

Larger organizations like Sutter Health (and its Palo Alto Medical Foundation and other medical foundations), Stanford and Kaiser Permanente are actively recruiting doctors to align with their systems. Tuesday's announcement shows that John Muir is very much aware of the sometimes ruthless competition for physician allegiance in the region.

"If physicians who are active on our medical staff and in our community are interested in being employed as part of an integrated medical group," Drew said, "then John Muir Health's Physician Network wants to provide that option."