CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dismissing doctors amid the coronavirus crisis sounds counterintuitive, but it's happening as the demand for certain specialties declines.
WCNC Charlotte received multiple messages from people on the 'Nextdoor' platform saying they abruptly learned their doctors at Holston Medical Group couldn't see them anymore. They had no way to communicate with them in the meantime.
Robyn Brodsky was one of those patients.
"I've gotten three different answers," said Brodsky. "The first answer when I went there for my medications this week, was he was not working. The second thing I got was he was furloughed. Then it was, he resigned."
Brodsky says she's been with her doctor for 8 years and has followed him from one medical group to another--most recently, HMG. She's built up a rapport with him, and he's familiar with her patient history. Brodsky wants to keep him as a doctor, if possible.
"I've had a rough couple of months of surgery and getting sick again," Brodsky said. "He knows exactly what the diagnosis is. He's kind... He takes his time. He's brilliant, and he knows who you are."
Holston Medical Group provided a statement, saying in part::
"Earlier in the year, 35 physicians resigned from HMG. Honoring scheduled patient visits and contracts, these physicians were scheduled to transition out of practice with us in September of 2020. That being said, COVID-19 has impacted many healthcare organizations like ours in surprising ways. "
COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders diminished checkups and elective procedures. 21 of those doctors were "dismissed from patient care responsibilities," effectively speeding up that transition by several months.
Read the full statement below:
"Nobody knows what's going on, and in the middle of what's happening now, it's not a really good time to let doctors sit on the bench," said Brodsky.
Brodsky says she reached out to an email account created for these doctors and received a response that said the "physicians are prohibited from continuing to see patients," and that they "will be able to treat you beginning in September."
"We will be in touch as more information is made available regarding our new practice locations," the email continues.
While HMG has offered to help patients find other care and doctors within its group, or transfer records to another provider, Brodsky wants to know why it's cutting her ties to her trusted doctor for the next several months.
"Please allow us a connection. Assign each doctor a nurse or a secretary or somebody that's their personal connection," Brodsky said. "Allow us to have references from our doctors. Let our doctors refer us to someone they know."
WCNC Charlotte has reached out to HMG with these specific patient concerns and has not heard back.
In addition, Holston Medical Group added to thier original statement saying:
"Please know that at this time, we have not been provided any information on where your provider intends to practice. However, the physicians are free to practice without any legal restrictions under any agreement with HMG. We are able to share an email address where you may contact them: firstname.lastname@example.org."
This story was inspired by local residents on Nextdoor. To contact Vanessa about a story idea, visit her Nextdoor profile and send her a direct message or email.