Surgeons Take Leave

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Four Biloxi hospitals made it through the first day of a general surgeons' walkout without too many hiccups. The emergency rooms were open.

Physicians are protesting skyrocketing premiums that some said forced them not to renew their medical malpractice insurance.

Ambulances pulled into Garden Park's emergency entrance. EMTs rolled patients into the emergency room.

Dr. Bill Kergosien was the physician on duty. At midnight, his hospital lost its general surgeons. So, Kergosien and his staff had to stabilize patients, and then transport the people who needed surgery to other facilities.

"We're going to still manage whatever emergencies we have the best way we can and deal with the change," said Kergosien.

With 12 general surgeons on leave from Garden Park, Memorial, Gulf Coast and Hancock medical centers, most surgical cases must be transported by ambulance to other area hospitals.

Emergency room doctors said they actually handle very few surgical cases. So during the leave of absence, business at the affected hospitals should be a close to normal as possible.

"What we want to do is serve the public," said Dr. Tom Graves of Memorial Hospital. "That's what we do."

Graves was just hired by Memorial Hospital to oversee its emergency room. So he's on the hospital's insurance plan. Otherwise, Graves would have faced the same skyrocketing insurance costs the general surgeons are protesting.

Graves said patient care wouldn't be hurt by the surgeons' walkout.

"We're here to serve the public. It's no different today than it was Saturday or last week," said Graves. "You come in here to get treated. You ought to expect the best treatment possible, because you're going to get it."