Donaldson now holds the quarterly medical staff meetings away from the hospital in a local restaurant and enjoys excellent attendance. Unlike most medical staff meetings, the event includes any member of the medical staff, whether physicians, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant.
"For a long time, we looked a lot at other hospitals to see what happened," says Donaldson. "When I look at other hospitals, I find that very few places have it that non-physicians can be members of the medical staff hierarchy."
Donaldson recommends other hospitals follow Ellenville Regional's lead. Anyone who has the capability or qualifications to run should be allowed to run if they are a member of the medical staff and meet the appropriate criteria. "Folks are doing such a large part of the job," he says. "Why wouldn't you want to get their input into what's going on?"
Donaldson doesn't spend much time worrying about hierarchy or turf wars. He's too busy getting on with patient care and helping the hospital experience a financial turnaround that's seen the ER expanded by 50% in the last five years.
Donaldson quotes his first physician collaborator, who once noted turf wars are for politicians.
"The people who are actually in the field doing the work are happy to have a colleague alongside them doing the same work in the same manner," he says. "It's not the people in the field who are making these comments and fighting over turf. They're trying to get their patients taken care of. It's the people in the medical societies who makes those battles."
Look at what happened at Ellenville, he says. Turf wars don't have to be a distraction. Clearly, this hospital has collaborative practice figured out.