Gov. William Donald Schaefer called yesterday for an end to the bitter feuding among hospitals and doctors over the recent firings and policy changes at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
"That has to stop, must stop," he said. "[It's] not good for the general public. . . . The sooner we get off the front page, the better off we'll be."
And he backed the changes ordered by Shock Trauma's director, Dr. Kimball I. Maull, including the July 28 dismissal of three center physicians who opposed Dr. Maull's initiatives.
"You have to have someone in charge," he said, later adding: "He made decisions that had to be made."
The governor's comments came a few hours after the three physicians postponed their efforts to persuade a Baltimore Circuit Court judge to reinstate them.
Lawyers for the doctors said they were pursuing negotiations with Dr. Maull and the University of Maryland Medical System.
The lawyers would not say whether their clients hope to remain at Shock Trauma or are haggling over the terms of their departure. Someone close to the negotiations said a settlement could come as early as Monday.
After meeting with lawyers for both sides for about an hour in his chambers yesterday morning, Judge Hilary D. Caplan announced that the hearing was postponed "in the hopes it will be resolved in a form that's comfortable for all."
Edward J. Gutman, a lawyer for the fired doctors, would not discuss details of the negotiations. Neither would William Howard, an assistant state attorney general representing Dr. Maull and the University of Maryland Medical System.
Both lawyers said the talks had begun soon after the doctors were fired.
Judge Caplan was scheduled to hear arguments on a request by the doctor's for a permanent injunction against enforcement of Dr. Maull's action.
They said their boss had violated the terms of their contracts.
A week-old temporary injunction blocking the firings expired at 11:59 last night. But Mr. Gutman said he believed the dismissals would remain in limbo while talks continue.
Dr. Maull, who became the director of Shock Trauma in February, summoned the three doctors to his office 11 days ago and told them, one at a time, that they had 72 hours to clean out their desks.
The trio include Howard Belzberg, a clinical care specialist; and two surgeons, C. Michael Dunham and Ameen I. Ramzy.
Dr. Ramzy resigned as director of the statewide emergency medical system in May. Dr. Maull assumed the duties of the post shortly afterward.
Dr. Maull said last week that the fired doctors tried to block his efforts to improve the state's emergency medical care system and resisted moves to bring the Shock Trauma Center into closer cooperation with the University of Maryland Medical System.
Allies of the doctors have said Dr. Maull's moves threaten to undermine the quality of Maryland's emergency medical care.