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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Rockwood surgeon to join Sacred Heart

As local doctors increasingly align their practices with the region’s competing hospital systems, a busy orthopedic surgeon has left Rockwood Clinic and joined Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Dr. Tim Lovell, a Rockwood surgeon for 18 years, will now lead the Providence Joint and Sports Center.

The move had been expected since January, according to Rockwood.

The decision followed Rockwood’s physician owners’ vote to sell their clinic and merge with Deaconess Medical Center under the common ownership of Community Health Systems Inc.

The clinic retains a staff of at least a dozen doctors and physician assistants specializing in orthopedics and sports medicine within its Rockwood Bone and Joint Center.

Lovell’s practice within Sacred Heart will complement Providence Orthopedic Specialties, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Lovell joins a handful of Rockwood physicians who have left the region’s largest specialty clinic and hired on with Sacred Heart.

Those doctors specialize in stroke, epilepsy and other neuroscience care.

Rockwood’s integration with Deaconess is moving quickly as physicians refer more and more patients to the hospital, breaking a decades-old trend of sending most Rockwood patients to Sacred Heart. It has led to a rift in the region’s medical community and sharpened the rivalry between Sacred Heart and Deaconess.

Rockwood is scheduled to vacate offices and clinical space on the Sacred Heart campus by the end of next month after the sides failed to negotiate a new lease.

While the strife between the two hospital systems appears to gain strength, Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, the chief executive of Providence Health Care, stressed at a series of talks this week that the region’s health care providers must collaborate to ensure quality patient care at reasonable costs against the backdrop of federal health care reform.

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