Thursday, May 20, 2010

Health Care Non-System: Family Doctors Close Practices; 6000 Patients Scramble

Since May first, 2009, three family physicians in my community have closed their solo practices and started seeing patients at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB).  One of them was cross covering with me until a few months before he closed.  Another worked with me in our adventure in a local university, directing their campus health center while continuing our practices.  The third just announced her move to the air force base.  Two of them were recent presidents of our county medical society.  This is a clear message about the stresses of private practice and a jolt to the community that initially is not noticed.  Nothing appeared in the media about the loss of three physicians.  The base is lucky to get these doctors.

Another physician around the corner from me shifted into concierge medicine in MDVIP after 25 years in practice.  He now has a practice with 325 patients and is more relaxed and satisfied.  Total patients left without a family physician as a result of these four family doctors career decisions is about 6,000!! 

Who is next?  Could it be your doctor?  (or me?..I wonder how the system works at the base?  Do you get to follow a panel of patients with continuity or just urgent care? Do they have whole patient families?-I'm a family fanatic. How much free time?  What do they pay family physicians at the base?  What do they pay for medical liability insurance (aka, malpractice insurance- we pay about $19,000 yearly)?  Could I admit to the base hospital and refresh my hospital skills that will fade as we aren't having many admissions to care for until the new hospital is built next door to our office?)

Oops, I almost forgot how I own my practice condo (mortgage of about $5300 monthly and about $12,000 in taxes yearly to help the community) and have 9 employees who are delightful, committed people.  We're still having fun helping people with their health and life issues.  At the end of the day, I sometimes feel a bit tired pouring through the stack of clinical information such as lab results, imaging results and letters from consultants, not to mention emergency forms to fax to the power company so people don't have their power shut off.  Then there are a few prior authorization forms to beg for medications needed by my patients instead of the one that made them ill or didn't help.  I find myself wondering about the end of the day pile of forms at the air force base (is it smaller?)  Just a thought- not really serious. 

We can't predict what happens next in health care.  Stay tuned and stay healthy please.  Dr Synonymous

1 comment:

  1. It's a pretty anxiety-provoking time for many primary care docs. I feel your great pain regarding the indirect patient workload, and battling to get my patients their necessary treatments. It can be very draining. But blogs like this help in knowing we are not alone, & we have each other :) Hang in there, Dr. S :)