Barton Health will open a new women's health center on Jan. 2 that will offer obstetrics, gynecological and infertility services from an OB-GYN physician new to the South Shore.
The opening will take place two days after the contracts of the four current physicians expire Monday. Barton Health looked to hire new obstetricians and gynecologists after two OB-GYN physician groups decided not to renew their contracts with the hospital last fall.
The new facility, called Barton Women's Health, will be located across from Barton Memorial Hospital and the Family Birthing Center. Dr. John Missanelli will join family nurse practitioner Patience Wenck at the center, which will offer women's care services from annual exams to onsite ultrasound, according to a Barton press release.
Missanelli, who received his degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and has 32 years of medial experience, will work at both the community clinic and the hospital's birthing center in addition to Barton Women's Health.
As a California nonprofit and under the Corporate Practice of Medicine Act, Barton cannot legally employ physicians. Instead, it contracts with a number of physician groups to treat patients at the hospital, physician offices, the community clinic and the surgery center. Missanelli contracted with Tahoe Carson Valley Medical Group, a Barton-managed practice, Director of Public Relations Monica Sciuto wrote in an email Thursday.
Dr. Matthew Barulich will also provide women's care services at Barton's Community Clinic two weeks per month. Barulich is opening Desert Rose Women's Care, a South Shore independent private practice at 2158 Jean Ave., where he will start seeing patients on Jan. 7, according to Desert Rose Manager Tina Forster.
Barulich will only see Tricare-covered maternity patients, while the rest of his work will be gynecological, Forster said.
Longtime South Shore gynecologist Dr. Kelly Shanahan said she will continue her private practice, Emerald Bay Center for Women's Health, even though she isn't renewing her contract with Barton. She has too much time and money invested in South Lake Tahoe to leave the city.
"I will continue to serve the women of the community. I'll have been here 19 years by April. My husband's been here for 30 years. I have deep ties to this community," Shanahan said.
"I feel the women in this community deserve the quality of care that they've gotten. I think it's very unfortunate we're losing Kris Kobalter. I feel that the Barton administration has lost its sense of community," she said.
Dr. Kris Kobalter left for Washington to join another private practice after contract negotiations with the hospital fell through. Kobalter worked as an obstetrician and gynecologist at Tahoe Women's Care, which Barton started managing five years ago.
Barton's decision to stop managing the Tahoe Women's Care offices in South Lake Tahoe and Minden, Nev., contributed to the contact's failure, according to Kobalter. Barton Public Information Officer Rebecca Wass said that the hospital owns the former Tahoe Women's Care building but does not currently have any plans for the facility.
According to Sciuto, births for South Lake Tahoe mothers declined 21 percent between 2010 and 2011, compared to an eight percent drop nationwide.
"Declining births and anticipated future reductions in health care reimbursement are a few of the reasons that the current business model with Tahoe Women's Care and Emerald Bay Center for Women's Health was not sustainable," she said.