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Perinatal doctor, Providence reach agreement

Sat., June 19, 2010, midnight

Hospital’s ex-specialist can work in Spokane

A Spokane doctor specializing in high-risk pregnancies will be allowed to work in Spokane after reaching a legal agreement with Providence Health Care.

The agreement shelves the non-compete clause triggered when Dr. Reinaldo Acosta resigned under pressure and had to stop seeing patients at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Acosta has not, however, withdrawn his lawsuit against Providence seeking lost wages.

Acosta’s medical specialty – perinatology – is in demand and the doctor said after a court hearing that he hopes to join a physicians practice or Deaconess Medical Center.

He is the only perinatologist practicing in Spokane. Recruitment of such physicians is difficult and competitive and Acosta said he has doubts Sacred Heart would be able to attract other specialists to replace him.

Sacred Heart attorney Michael Love said the hospital is actively recruiting perinatologists, although in the meantime has physicians, staff and specialists working to ensure patients in need of such services receive care. The perinatology care at Sacred Heart is now being provided by specialists who travel to Spokane on a temporary basis.

Love declined to elaborate why Providence and its leadership within Providence Physician Services Co. demoted and reprimanded Acosta. Such details, he said, would be forthcoming as Acosta’s lawsuit moves ahead.

The injunction signed by Spokane Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque reserves Providence’s right to ask the judge to enforce the non-compete clause.

Acosta’s suit against Providence for lost wages and benefits following his stormy separation this winter could total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

His attorneys, Keller Allen and Stephen Haskell, said Acosta has been idled for 4 1/2 months. No organization would hire him and advertise his services with the non-compete clause in play.

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