Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Thousands of people in a south-central Kansas town have about a month to find a new doctor.
Patients of the Wellington Family Practice Clinic are learning the three-physician practice will close May 24. There will still be several family physicians practicing in the community after the Wellington Family Practice Clinic closes, but some people are worried about the ability of those doctors to absorb such a large patient load.
"The frustration outweighs everything to me," said Wellington resident Neal Crouch.
For Crouch, much of that frustration comes from disappointment in learning he will soon have to begin seeing a new physician.
"It's not just disappointing because of that, it's also kind of disappointing because we're not getting a lot of notice about it," he said.
Some patients of the clinic began learning this week the practice will be closing in a month.
"The doctors have chosen to go different ways," said Shelley Hansel-Williams, Executive Director of the Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce.
KAKE News has not yet learned how many employees the clinic's closure may affect. However, the impact of losing three family practice physicians who care for thousands of patients will be felt in several ways.
"Certainly these are people who have not just worked in our community, but they are pillars of our community," Hansel-Williams said. "They are leaders in our community."
Wellington has another large family practice clinic, Sumner County Family Care Center. Hansel-Williams is confident that clinic can take on many of Wellington Family Practice Clinic's patients even though it already has a very large clientele of its own.
Crouch wishes Wellington Family Practice Clinic had a succession plan in place.
"Other doctors' practices have set up people to come in and take over that they felt were right for the community and right for their patients," he said.
He also said there is a bit of apprehension that comes along with finding a new doctor.
"They know your habits to a certain extent," he joked. "Now you've basically got to be an open book for a new person like that."
In an e-mailed statement, Sumner Regional Medical Center President and CEO Leonard Hernandez said one physician was retiring, one was beginning a long-term care practice and the other was joining a vein clinic.
His full statement is below.
"We are obviously disappointed to learn the news that the Wellington Family Practice is planning to close at the end of May 2013.
"The clinic (WFPC) is an independent three-physician clinic in which one physician has decided to leave family practice for a long term care based practice, one physician is retiring and the third is reducing his family practice clinic hours to work more in a vein clinic in the area. They are all quality physicians who have served the Wellington and surrounding communities very well for a number of years. They will truly be missed.
"We are very fortunate in Wellington to have a second family practice clinic (Sumner Family Care Center, P.A.) that houses six family practice physicians and a mid-level practitioner. In talking with them recently, they have hired an additional two mid-level practitioners to assist with any immediate additional patient load based on the WFPC closing.
"They are also committed to recruiting additional physicians in the future should the need arise. Sumner Regional Medical Center has agreed to become the custodian of the records from the WFPC and will make every effort to make those available to any patient who requests them."