Baptist Health System’s only family practice will close its doors May 1 after years of financial struggles and staff recruitment challenges.
Family Medical Care, a small primary care center that opened in 1998, can no longer afford to stay open and will shutter its operations at 7 Culligan Drive by the end of the month, said office manager Armon Benny.
“We were in an unfortunate, very sad situation for Baptist Health to come to this conclusion,” he said. “They fought it for years and years and years, but it just has come to the point where, without being able to recruit doctors, it’s very difficult to provide the right kind of care.”
With the majority of physicians choosing higher-paying specialties over primary care, Family Medical Care was already holding tight to its lone doctor. And when it began looking to recruit another, doctors who were going into primary care expressed their preference for larger facilities where patient load could be shared.
“We’ve been struggling,” said Benny, who’s served as manager since July 2012. “For the past year and a half, we have not been able to attract a doctor to join our practice, and that’s what we need in order to operate.”
The squat, one-story practice opened in 1998, offering urgent care as a diagnostic and treatment center, and over the years added primary care services. Today, it employs one doctor in internal medicine, two or three nurse practitioners and a handful of other staff, for an total workforce of 11.
Employees were informed of the decision by its Glenville parent organization last month, and have begun applying for positions with Ellis Medicine and area medical practices.
Benny said that even if the practice had enough doctors, it would need at least 6,000 active patients to remain operational, based solely on its Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance reimbursements. Right now, it has about 2,100 patients, and has begun referring them to Ellis Medicine’s primary care practice in Glenville.
“It is in the best interest of our patients that we steer them to places that are better staffed than we are to serve their needs,” Benny said. “You’ve got Community Care [Physicians] and CapitalCare [Medical Group]. You’ve got hospitals buying up smaller practices. These are family practices that are growing bigger and bigger and can make it.”
Baptist Health System continues to have a large presence in the Glenville area with its 260-bed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on North Ballston Avenue.