Headline: UC Davis Medical Group to close Colusa clinic
Layercake: Community members upset at lack of warning
By ERICA LEE
Aggie News Writer
Over 2,000 UC Davis Medical Center patients will lose their local care when the system’s Colusa clinic closes this November.
The UC Davis Medical Group recently announced the closure after years of financial challenges that had the Colusa clinic losing nearly $800,000 annually, said Kurt Slapnick, medical director of UC Davis’ network of primary-care physician practices.
“The challenges stem in large part to increases in charity care and bad debt, as well as inadequate reimbursement from government payers such as Medi-Cal,” Slapnick said. “Operational losses have also stemmed from challenges recruiting and retaining physicians and providing sufficient operational support for such a remote site.”
The university’s decision has left many members of the Colusa community shocked and upset, said Dale Kirby, chief executive officer of Colusa Regional Medical Center.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook,” Kirby said. “The community has started a letter writing campaign to the governor … many people are shocked and hurt by the announcement [to close the clinic].”
Kirby said he was personally very surprised by the news and received no prior notice of the decision.
“I had no forewarning and neither did the clinic employees,” he said. “Nobody from UC Davis had bothered to talk to us about it, we found out when the public did.”
Phillip Raimondi, former medical director of the Colusa office, was unable to comment for this article but told the Colusa County Sun-Herald that although the university had considered closing the Colusa clinic for years, it intentionally did not discuss the decision with the Colusa community beforehand.
“There is no right way to do this and we decided if we talked to people ahead of time we would run the risk of starting a rumor mill, and we didn’t want that,” Raimondi said in the Sun-Herald article earlier this month.
Kirby said he believes that UC Davis should have included the community of Colusa in the discussion process.
“The ethical and moral thing would have been to sit with [the community] and talk to us about a plan,” he said. “I am confident we could have figured out something that would have worked for the community and UC Davis but [the university] did not give us the opportunity … we are stuck trying to find medical coverage for 2,000 people.”
Despite the closing of its clinic, UC Davis medical group plans to stay connected with the Colusa medical community, Slapnick said.
“UC Davis plans to continue the provision of specialty services, such as radiology and cardiology, telemedicine consultations and other programs and services,” he said.
Slapnick also said that patients who choose to switch to physicians from local providers in Colusa will receive aid from the health system in making the transition. Patients can also choose to stay with UC Davis medical group by seeking care at one of its other locations in Davis or Rocklin.
However, this is not a viable option for many members of the clinic’s patients, Kirby said.
“Many of the patients are senior citizens,” he said. “Driving 60 miles away to Rocklin or Davis to obtain health care is a real burden for many people.”
ERICA LEE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.