Published 11/17/23 on Channel 10, by Eriketa Cost:
On Wednesday, Rochester Regional Health said several physicians resigned to start a retainer-based concierge medicine practice.
The office remains open for business, as RRH works to replace the physicians with other employees in the network. In the statement, RRH says all physicians at the Linden location will continue to see patients through the end of the year.
“We remain true to our mission to provide high-quality, affordable, and accessible care to our patients and the community. During this transition phase, there will be no interruption to anyone seeking care at the Linden Medical Group practice. Our staff is actively contacting all patients to assist them in transitioning to other providers within our 400-member network,” the statement read.
News10NBC has been talking to some other doctors throughout the region, who are leaving the practice to go to concierge medicine. Many are unable to speak out, due to non-disparagement agreements in their contracts.
Head of Monroe County Medical Society Hemant Kalia said the current state of healthcare is contributing to unsustainable rates of burnout. For example, the emergence of two giants, UR Medicine and RRH controlling the market, and the administrative burden that comes with that.
Another contributing factor, he said, is the disparity of reimbursement between private practices and employed physician groups. Kalia said in a recent survey with members of the medical society, more than 50% percent of respondents said they were burned out.
As for why some are choosing concierge medicine? Kalia said there’s probably no specific reason. Concierge medicine is when patients pay a premium, perhaps in the form of annual fees, for increased access to providers and care.
“The main point, the main emphasis is, our physicians are struggling and they’re crying for help,” said Kalia. “We can certainly talk about other innovative models of delivering care, concierge medicine is one of them, but if we don’t address the route cause of the problem, we will continue to see physicians moving out of our region.”
It has patients like Joe Gonzalez wondering, what’s next?
Gonzalez said he was shocked to learn in a letter, that his doctor Dr. Jeffrey Vuillequez is no longer practicing there. He said he and his wife would like to continue seeing him, even if means going somewhere else.
He has an appointment coming up in February, and he’s not sure if he’ll get to connect with him before then. He said the office couldn’t provide a specific end-date. Gonzalez said he called the office to ask some questions, including if he could still be a patient in the future. He says a woman replied, it’s possible he won’t be, if there’s not enough staff. According to the letter Gonzalez got in his MyCare inbox, the office said it will continue to operate with other nurses and staff.
“You really want to be sure that you have somebody you can see if you are sick. They didn’t even give any advice like, if you’re sick after this date go to the hospital,” said Gonzalez. “Starting over with a new doctor, might happen someday. This was a little bit of a surprise and not much warning.”
“This seems like a mass exodus from the practice,” he said. “I understand there is probably a bunch of legal things going on behind the scenes, things they can and can’t say,” he said.
RRH says if you’re a patient at the Linden location, you can still call the office with questions, and make an appointment.