Sanford says staffing woes forced clinic to be closedKENNEBEC — Sanford Chamberlain officials said Thursday the Kennebec clinic is closing due to staffing issues, not financial difficulties.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
KENNEBEC — Sanford Chamberlain officials said Thursday the Kennebec clinic is closing due to staffing issues, not financial difficulties.
“It’s due to lack of resources we’ve been struggling with, really, in the last six months,” said Tony Tiefenthaler, vice president at the Sanford Chamberlain clinic. “We lost a physician in Chamberlain and an advanced practice provider. We were not able to meet the needs of the Kennebec community like we wanted to — thus the decision to close the clinic.”
A physician or an advanced practice provider traveled to Kennebec from Chamberlain a few days a week, said Erica Peterson, chief financial officer for Sanford Chamberlain. She said Sanford has been working to recruit doctors to Chamberlain and the surrounding rural area in the last five years, but have had little to no luck in staffing the Kennebec clinic.
“Recruiting physicians to a rural area is very challenging,” she said. “It’s a nationwide issue.”
Tiefenthaler and Peterson insist the clinic closure has nothing to do with financial issues and simply a matter of the lack of resources to provide services in Kennebec.
“It’s unfortunate the staffing needs are not met, but Chamberlain is only 30 minutes away and can meet the needs of the area residents,” he said.
Peterson said the Chamberlain market, which includes Kennebec, has made significant improvements in the last five to seven years.
Sanford Chamberlain added an OB/GYN physician, which has increased the number of births in the area, Tiefenthaler said. The market was also one of the first to add digital mammography.
Most recently, Sanford Chamberlain constructed a new nursing home, one of the few new ones in the state in several years, Peterson said.
“These are just a few of the positive things we should be focusing on,” she added.
The Kennebec clinic is now scheduled to close Sept. 14 rather than the original Aug. 31 date. Sanford is currently in the process of sending letters to patients, Tiefenthaler said.
Patients will have the opportunity to request their medical records if they want to move to another clinic, he added.
“Which is fine,” he said. “But if they stay in the Sanford family — Chamberlain, Pierre, Kimball or even Mitchell — we have digital records so their records will remain in the system.”