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PMC faces lawsuit claiming 'monopolization'

local physician sues portneuf medical center

POCATELLO, Idaho - The Portneuf Medical Center is finding itself in the midst of a lawsuit after one local physician is pursuing legal action against the hospital's Texas-based parent company, LHP Hospital Group.

Ever since the Skyline Surgery Center opened its doors just less than three weeks ago, physicians here say they already treated more than 130 patients in the new facility which is completely owned, facilitated, and funded by these physicians.

However, the center's administrator Terry Elquist used to work for PMC before branching-off and starting this venture. He said he believes opening a private facility would be more beneficial to his patients, given more personal relationships these patients have with the center's physicians.

"They are in the trenches with us so when you want to get things fixed it gets fixed right away," Elquist said. "There's no delay like there is in a big, corporate system."

According to the published federal court documents, Elquist is suing LHP Medical Group claiming the corporation made it difficult for him to open the surgical center while monopolizing the Bannock County surgical market.

"I felt like my company was treated unfairly in a contractual relationship we had with another entity in town and the hospital got involved in that. That's probably as much as I should say," Elquist said.

In an interview over the phone, Portneuf officials deny the allegiations, saying his grounds for suing the company is weakened, seeing as the hospital never stood in the way of him opening his facility by any means.

Before working with Portneuf, Elquist used to own the Rocky Mountain Surgery Center, but in 2009 the hospital acquired it. Shortly thereafter, Elquist said LHP reopened Rocky Mountain under the ownership of PMC.

Both Portneuf and Elquist have said they want relations between the two parties to remain amicable.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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