The Ottumwa Courier

February 2, 2013

Few solid answers about clinic’s future

But for now, owners say patients shouldn’t notice a difference

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — There may be changes coming to a large Ottumwa outpatient clinic.

Iowa Health Physicians and Clinics has announced it will no longer operate Ottumwa Internal Medicine North or Ottumwa Family Practice.

But someone else could take over the clinics, they said, which houses 15 doctors and other providers, plus 45 employees.

“This decision was made only after thorough assessment and careful consideration,” said Dr. Dan Allen, regional vice president and medical director of Iowa Health Physicians and Clinics’ central Iowa region.

What led to the decision is unclear.

When asked, Iowa Health Systems spokesperson  Heather Nahas replied that this is not a move to close the clinic or to get rid of the 15 Ottumwa doctors employed by Iowa Health Systems.

Even though no one has said employees are being fired, eventually the goal is to stop paying them, right?

“The goal,” said Nahas, “would be to shift management with input from those physicians. We are allowing several months for this to occur.”

A press release said IHS will work with clinic providers to “create a management transition ... An announcement regarding the management change will be made at a later date.”

Nahas said she believes the Ottumwa situation is unique, and that there is not a plan for companywide downsizing.

The company said patients should not notice any changes at their clinic and should continue to contact and visit their provider as they normally would. The release from the company says most of the transition work will be handled by management so physicians and employees can continue to focus on patient care.

“The physicians, providers and staff have been informed,” Nahas said.

Some IHP Ottumwa employees Friday indicated they would prefer to wait until they knew a little more before commenting on any future changes. Because of the importance of medical care in the community, said Nahas, not only will staff know more, so will those who use the clinics.

“Patients will be kept in the loop,” she said.

Other health facilities with a presence in Ottumwa either could not be reached for comment by press time Friday or said they would wait until they knew more before commenting on what the situation could actually mean for Ottumwa patients, physicians or employees.