CORONAVIRUS

Mercy Medical Center to close primary care clinic

All patients of MercyCare Health Partners have been notified of Nov. 30 closure

A health care worker sits in a screening area outside Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids on Friday, March 27, 2020. (R
A health care worker sits in a screening area outside Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids on Friday, March 27, 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Mercy Medical Center is closing one of its primary care clinics at the end of the month.

MercyCare Health Partners will close Nov. 30 — a response to events of the past year that have tested all hospitals in their ability to deliver care “in an increasingly challenging financial environment.”

“While difficult, these types of decisions help maintain Mercy’s financial strength and ensure we are in a position to sustain our mission while seeking other opportunities for growth,” Mercy officials said in a statement to The Gazette.

The clinic, at 600 Seventh Ave. SE, was developed to fill gaps in services locally by offering medical care “for a wide range of needs including more intensive primary care for patients.” In particular, the clinic was meant to establish a medical home for patients with complex health issues who do not have a family medicine or primary care physician.

However, Mercy officials said similar services have grown locally, in many cases offering duplicate services.

The clinic opened in 2016, according to a guest column in the Corridor Business Journal written by Chief Executive Officer Tim Charles and Dr. Monica Meeker, a physician with MercyCare Health Partners.

The six employees at MercyCare Health Partners have been offered permanent placement within the Mercy system, according to officials.

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The clinic’s patients have been notified of the closure, officials said, and providers are “actively supporting them in finding new locations for their care.”

According to the guest column, the clinic had cared for about 350 adults in its first year.

This announcement comes about a month after Mercy Medical Center announced furloughs and required leave time across its system that were a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forty-eight employees were temporarily furloughed, and an additional 157 were required to take paid or unpaid leave.

Hospitals across the state have faced a major financial blow as a result of the pandemic. Elective procedures — often their biggest profit item — were delayed in the spring, leading to lower-than-expected revenues.

In addition, Mercy officials said last month that patients have been hesitant to return for routine care as the health system resumed those services.

The hospital is seeing a high volume of patients in its inpatient setting, but outpatient services have had lower visits than usual.

“This year has required unprecedented flexibility and transformation to respond to changing health care needs,” officials said in the statement. “Mercy must continue to evolve while constantly reviewing how we can best deliver care to patients in an increasingly challenging financial environment for all health systems.”

Comments: (319) 398-8469; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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