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Doctors disband radiology group

The physicians behind Spokane Radiology Consultants have dissolved the group after it struggled to meet the service and staffing needs of Deaconess Medical Center and Valley Hospital and Medical Center.

The hospitals, part of Empire Health Services, have since signed a contract with Everett-based Radia for radiology and interventional radiology services.

The move followed months of meetings and a concern shared by all sides that Spokane Radiology simply could not compete in the recruitment race for new radiologists with regional market leader Inland Imaging, the exclusive provider of radiology services to Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Spokane Radiology administrator Liz Fletcher said her office is closing and selling equipment.

None of the six doctors has joined Inland. Nor have they joined Radia at this time, she said. The physicians include Ron Cocchiarella, Richard Clark, Marvin Gottschall, Margaret Haddon, Laura Hotchkiss and Mark Terry.

Radia calls itself the largest private radiology/vascular practice in the Pacific Northwest, with 70 doctors.

Bob Quist, Empire’s acting chief executive officer, said Radia is interested in having the Spokane Radiology doctors join the practice.

Discussions about radiology needs have been ongoing for many months, Quist said.

“We had significant problems with the consistency of staffing,” he said. “As a group, they haven’t had the number of radiologists necessary and can’t compete with Inland for recruits, even though individually they are outstanding professionals who worked many hours.”

Quist said Radia will meet the needs of Deaconess and Valley, even as Empire seeks to sell to Community Health Systems Inc., one of the nation’s largest hospital chains with 127 hospitals in 28 states.

The pending sale had no bearing on the radiology shuffle, Quist and Fletcher agreed.

“This is about the difficulties we had with recruiting” and retaining doctors, Fletcher said.

Radia president Dr. Jack Little said the company is prepared to meet the day-to-day needs of Deaconess and Valley with specialists on site and remote services.