About Us

A Company Created by Surgeons for Surgeons

We don’t just staff call schedules, we build programs.

We understand that the pillar of any good trauma practice is the surgeon, and our surgeons drive the business. DTS surgeon leadership is untethered by private equity and venture capital management. As the economic and political landscape for trauma has changed substantially over the last four decades DTS has navigated and endured in this challenging environment. While other groups have failed to adapt to the mounting pressure of regulation and privatization, we have thrived. Our recipe for success is flexibility, adaptability, and a rigorous analysis of the needs of our client’s marketplace. While many groups may offer staffing solutions, we go several steps further. A meticulous recruitment process based on physician experience, qualifications, and alignment with DTS culture ensures quality staffing. Protocolization and integration with hospital infrastructure ensures compliance with local and national accreditation standards. Analysis of program expansion capability and extensive DTS bench depth across subspecialties allows for improvement in ACS verification status, growth of the regional trauma system, addition of outpatient surgical services, and development of Graduate Medical Education. We believe our differentiation is built on unmatched experience, genuine corporate partnership, and a relentless commitment to excellence for our clients so they achieve their institutional goals. .  

Company History

Established in 1994 by Drs. Frank Ercoli and Oscar Paz-Altchul, Desert Trauma Surgeons, Inc. provided trauma care to the largest catchment region of Southern California – East Riverside County (Coachella Valley). With the original team of six surgeons they covered trauma, emergency general surgery, and surgical critical care for Desert Regional Medical Center (Palm Springs, CA) for three decades. Between 2020 to 2024 DTS grew from six to 40 surgeons and from one trauma center to four trauma centers in Southern California (Desert Regional Medical Center, JFK Memorial Hospital, St. Francis Medical Center, and St. Mary Medical Center).  During the COVID-19 pandemic DTS also provided contract services to Hi-Desert Medical Center (Joshua Tree, CA) and Mission Hospital (Mission Viejo, CA). DTS has now expanded to an organization of 73 employees with subdivisions responsible for all clinical, administrative, academic, and financial operations. 

Mission Statement

We believe in four core values: 

  • Surgeons drive the business, and effective surgeon recruitment, surgeon development, and surgeon professional and personal satisfaction leads to the best patient care outcomes.
  • Continued growth of surgical programs and maintenance of regulatory standards.
  • Efficiency and optimization of the hospital surgical ecosystem balancing financial constraints.
  • True corporate partnership and alignment of institutional goals.

Residency Program

The General Surgery Residency at Desert Regional Medical Center is a 5-year ACGME accredited program, commencing in July 2023. It offers extensive training in general surgery and an intense curriculum covering various surgical subspecialties.  Residents engage in weekly didactics, simulator training, and teaching conferences (journal club, research, morbidity and mortality conference). Residents obtain qualifications for FLS, BLS, ACLS, and ATLS and also have the opportunity to become certified in Robotic Surgery as part of the curriculum.  In their five years residents work with trainees in emergency medicine, family medicine, neurosurgery, and our own surgical critical care fellows.  Residents also get opportunities for international rotations and potentially a year in research. Residents are expected to graduate with over 1,000 operative cases and to pass the American Board of Surgery examinations on first try. Our program emphasizes community service, addressing the needs of underserved populations of Coachella Valley and Riverside County. Qualified graduates receive special consideration to work with DTS upon residency completion.

Fellowship Program

The Surgical Critical Care Fellowship program in Palm Springs is a one-year ACGME-accredited program, located in Palm Springs and affiliated with Desert Regional Medical Center. It provides extensive training in Trauma/Surgical ICUs with exposure to a high volume of critical care caseloads and extensive operative trauma. The inaugural class, graduating in July 2023, achieved a 100% pass rate in Board Certification. The program is dedicated to training future leaders in surgical critical care and invites motivated fellows to join.