Peninsula clinic abruptly shuts down

March 18, 2009 6:34:59 PM PDT
Thousands of people living near Half Moon Bay are suddenly without health care services after their clinic suddenly closed last week over monetary issues. It was community medical clinic that served both rich and poor.

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Outside the Coastside Family Medical Center in Half Moon Bay, there is a bureaucratic version of the word, 'triage.'

"Did medical school prepare you for this?" asked ABC7's Wayne Freedman.

"No. It's something I thought I would never encounter," said Dr. Dan McMillan from Coastside Family Medical Center.

Dr. McMillan sort of looked at a few patients, today but mostly, he told one after another that no matter how much they want their medical records, they cannot have them here and now.

"A person with health record, they should be able to get their own health records," said patient Carol Adame.

But not, legally, from a clinic that suddenly and permanently closed due to a red ink. It is unprecedented in these parts. Doctors and nurses didn't even get severance.

"I found out about this at 9:00 on Friday morning, and we closed the doors at 5:00 p.m.," said Dr. McMillan.

"I had an appointment this week, and that was cancelled," said Rosemary Malvey.

And so goes the only public medical clinic on the San Mateo county coast, for all the rural areas, and also residents of half moon bay.

The clinic served about 15,000 people -- some with insurance and some without. That was part of the problem.

"A hybrid model like this is unheard of, and difficult to maintain," said Coastside Family Medical Center CEO Bob Harless.

Not without federal funds, for which the clinic did not qualify.

Harless says the clinic subsidized four of every 10 patients and relied on donations to cover the rest. But they fell $500,000 short this year.

"The clinics that see only poor folks---they get a higher reimbursement to see those patients," said Dr.Dr. McMillan.

So now, the recession has hit medicine and is leaving a void in Half Moon Bay. The county has reassigned about one 1,000 patients to private doctors and as many more remain in limbo.

"Anytime I come here, this place has been filled with families and elderly people. My heart breaks for them," said Malvey.

Patients who want their records from the Coastside Family Medical Center can contact:

  • Mills Peninsula Medical Group: 650-240-8059
  • Health Plan of San Mateo (HPSM) Member Services: 800-750-4776
  • If you are enrolled in CareAdvantage, call: 866-880-0606

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