Dr. Larry Kipe said changes are coming to Moffat Family Clinic in 2011.
“Pretty soon, I’ll be the sole owner,” Kipe said. “There will be just me and a (physician’s assistant) here.”
The clinic, located at 600 Russell St., is losing two of its physicians.
Dr. Catherine Crowe is leaving at the end of the year, and Dr. Greg Roberts is leaving in spring 2011.
Kipe said he has no immediate plans to fill the vacancies.
“In the long term, we plan to do that, but that takes a year-and-a-half to two years of recruitment,” he said. “And, it’s kind of a struggling time, financially, for businesses right now, so we need to make sure that we can stay open and be financially sound before we hire anyone else.”
In the meantime, Kipe said he and the PA at Moffat Family Clinic would absorb Crowe and Roberts’ patients as the need arises.
“Yes, we will,” he said. “We’re trying to find a way to keep open more hours and have more available slots per doctor and PA so we can still service the population that we want to service at our clinic.
“And, certainly we have no plans — or even thoughts — that we’ll go out of business.”
Kipe said he doesn’t have individual numbers on how many patients Crowe and Roberts serve.
Roberts confirmed he is leaving.
“I am,” Roberts said. “I’m moving to Minnesota next summer.”
Roberts said his wife has a job opportunity through the Methodist church.
Crowe declined comment on her planned Dec. 31 departure, but stressed it was amicable.
“Catherine has been with us for over a decade, and I think she’s been in town almost 30 years,” Kipe said. “We’re not leaving on bad terms, we’re leaving on great terms.”
Kipe said he reviews the clinic’s financial status frequently, and hopes the economic situation in Craig improves.
“I would hope so, but it’s hard,” he said of the economy. “I just saw in the paper this week that 700-something people are unemployed in Moffat County.
“It’s tough for people right now, and they’ve put off a lot of elective things and wellness. People don’t come in for physicals when they’re strapped for money. They don’t pay for preventative-type care because they have more immediate concerns than what might happen in a few years.
“But, economies go up and they go down, and I’m sure things will turn around. We’re fortunate to be in a coal-industry town, so that’s good.”
However, if and when the economy rebounds, Kipe said it is difficult to recruit doctors to Craig.
Part of the reason is the on-call hours that are required of Moffat Family Clinic physicians, Kipe said.
“It’s just a lifestyle thing,” he said. “(Doctors) don’t want to take calls anymore and be responsible (for patients) at night. They want to work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and go home.
“That’s just the new breed of doctors.”
Kipe said he’s not interested in the new breed.
“Here, we just have a different philosophy,” Kipe said of his clinic. “I’m not after somebody who doesn’t want to take care of people when they go to the hospital.
“We’re really looking at an old-fashioned family doctor who delivers babies and takes care of you from when you’re born all the way until you die.”
Kipe said focusing on specialized medicine and eliminating on-call physician hours would disrupt continuity of care, and it’s not something he foresees for his clinic.
“We don’t want a fragmented type of system where somebody gets care for one thing here and gets care for another thing somewhere else, and nobody knows what the big picture is,” he said.