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KershawHealth forms new general surgery division

Posted: July 11, 2014 2:47 p.m.
Updated: July 14, 2014 5:00 a.m.

More than three years ago, KershawHealth administrators started working on a plan to create a general surgery division within its healthcare system. In a press release issued Wednesday, KershawHealth administrators announced the completion of that effort, integrating the general surgical practices of doctors Paul Christenberry and Ed Gill. Gill previously practiced with Sentinel Health Partners, while Christenberry maintained a solo practice.

“Consolidating our general surgery service line is a key objective of our recently-approved Strategic Plan, and we are happy to be able to accomplish this goal quickly,” interim KershawHealth CEO Terry Gunn said in the press release. “Establishing this two-physician practice is a major step forward to ensure the continuation of strong general surgery services for our community. In addition, it enables us now to recruit a third general surgeon to Kershaw County. Having a third general surgeon will allow us to provide physician services in other parts of the county, including our Elgin campus.”

KershawHealth administrators pointed out that a recent community needs assessment and physician recruitment plan developed by the Coker Group validated the need for an additional general surgeon in Kershaw County.

The healthcare system began working on a plan to integrate Gill and Christenberry’s practices in 2011. In June of that year, the KershawHealth Board of Trustees voted 6-0, with two trustees recused from voting due to conflicts of interest, to purchase the two physician practices. That vote included a proposal for KershawHealth to purchase the building Gill practices in for $1 million.

The board later decided not to purchase the building and administrators began reworking the agreement. In January 2013, the board voted again on a 5-3 split vote. Trustee Dr. Tallulah Holmstrom recused herself due to being employed by Sentinel. This time, the majority voted to approve employment agreements with Gill and Christenberry to form KershawHealth General Surgery. The approval did not include purchasing Gill’s building, opting instead for a lease.

The board voted to abandon the plan in May 2013, rescinding its authorization to former CEO Donnie Weeks to negotiate the deal. Weeks agreed with the decision, essentially saying that KershawHealth had to focus on meeting financial challenges caused by cuts in Medicare reimbursements and South Carolina’s decision not to expand Medicaid.

Negotiations to create the new division started again later in 2013 after Trustee Paul Napper became chairman of the board for a short time. The new practice will be called KershawHealth Surgical Associates.

Dr. Christenberry is a graduate of the University of South Alabama Medical School, and completed his general surgery residency with a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of South Alabama Medical Center. Additionally, he completed a vascular surgery fellowship at Carolinas Medical Center (Sanger Clinic) in 1998. He was a member of the KershawHealth medical staff from 1992 to 1997, and rejoined the medical staff in 2000 upon completion of his vascular surgery fellowship.

“Dr. Gill and I have worked closely with the KershawHealth staff for many years. And we are looking forward to being even more fully integrated into the healthcare system. This is exactly the kind of surgery you want to have done close to home -- and we need to ensure it’s available locally,” Dr. Christenberry said in the press release.

A graduate of the Medical College of Georgia who completed his surgical internship at the University of South Alabama Medical Center, Dr. Gill has been a member of Sentinel Health Partners and the KershawHealth medical staff since 1990.

“I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Sentinel group for many years, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work closely with all Kershaw County physicians to provide quality care to their patients,” Dr. Gill said.

Both Dr. Christenberry and Dr. Gill are members of the national medical honor society Alpha Omega Alpha.

Sentinel Health physician Jack F. Scheuer, MD, noted Gill’s work with the group.

“Dr. Gill has been a valuable member of our team and our physicians have also worked with Dr. Christenberry at Kershaw Health,” Dr. Scheuer said. “We certainly look forward to working with them in the future to provide outstanding care here in Kershaw County. The physicians and staff of Sentinel Health Partners wish them well in their new endeavors.”

KershawHealth Surgical Associates will be located in Gill’s offices at 1102 Roberts St. in Camden.

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