TMH, Told clinic continue talks
Nothing final regarding a lease or acquisition
The Memorial Hospital and Craig Medical Center continued negotiations Thursday regarding the hospital's possible lease of the clinic at 580 Pershing St.
Samantha Johnston, TMH service excellence officer, said there is a verbal agreement for the hospital to lease the main floor of the Medical Center for three years.
The hospital does not plan to purchase the clinic's patient records or the practice itself, Johnston said.
No contracts have been signed, however, and terms of any possible deal could be different after attorneys are done negotiating, Johnston said.
Talks between TMH and the Medical Center began in 2008 after the clinic's owner, longtime Craig resident Dr. Thomas Told, agreed to become Dean of Clinical Medicine at Rocky Vista Medical School in Parker, a town southeast of Denver.
At least one of Told's former patients is concerned about the clinic's future.
Barbara Jean Sonntag, 71, was one of Told's patients for about 30 years.
She worries the clinic's estimated 2,500 patients will suffer if its doors do not reopen soon.
"I think (the negotiation) has been taking a lot longer than planned, which is unfortunate," Sonntag said. "Where are all those patients going to go? It's been over a month, and many of those patients have monthly visits they have to make because of blood pressure or anything else."
Sonntag said she worries about the hospital's decision to not buy the Medical Center's patient records.
By law, Told must provide a copy of every patient's medical record if asked, and although Sonntag received hers without having to pay, she fears others may not know to ask or may not be able to get theirs before the clinic closes.
"Can you imagine someone who's been there (at the clinic) for 21 years trying to remember all the little visits they had?" Sonntag said.
"It's unfair. I really wish this could have been handled smoother."
Johnston said patients should not be afraid they won't be able to get their medical records. The law requires the Medical Center provide any former patients with their records even after it closes for a certain period of time. She added clinic employees should be able to tell patients how to go through the process of getting their records and taking them to a new doctor.
TMH is dedicated to providing an additional family doctor to the community, whether TMH reaches a signed agreement with the Medical Center or not, Johnston said.
The hospital recently hired Dr. Andy Hughes to serve the community as a family doctor, and he can start as soon as he has office space, she said.
If that space is not the Medical Center, then TMH will find room for him at the hospital.
"TMH is committed to opening our clinic doors to the community immediately, if not sooner," Johnston said. "Whether we reach a lease agreement for the (Medical Center) or not, we will make space to provide the care we know the community seeks."
Hughes will accept patients with all types of health insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid patients, Johnston said.
Mollie Told, Thomas' wife and acting administrator at the Medical Clinic, said she is unsure the two parties will reach a final agreement.
She and her husband want Hughes to work at the clinic space, but she said the hospital has backed out of verbal agreements before.
Mollie Told said she could not comment further.
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org