Palomar Hospital in Escondido has temporarily removed itself from the county's trauma system because the facility's two neurosurgeons have decided not to renew their contracts, hospital officials said Friday.
Seriously injured patients are being diverted to trauma centers at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla and Sharp Memorial Hospital in Kearny Mesa. In the meantime, Palomar is continuing to handle all non-trauma emergency cases.
Mel Knoepp, a Palomar spokesman, said hospital officials are negotiating with several neurosurgeons to replace Theodore Obenchain and Mark Stern, the two doctors who stopped working with the hospital after their contracts expired Sunday.
Neurosurgeons are necessary in a hospital trauma unit because many serious injuries involve damage to the brain, spine or nervous system.
Knoepp said he anticipates that the hospital will resume caring for trauma victims--typically people injuried in traffic accidents or during shootings or assaults--when new neurosurgeons are hired in a few weeks.