ELLSWORTH — After more than 25 years of providing primary care and treating whoever walked through the door, MedNow Clinic will close Feb. 29.
“There are a number of reasons,” said owner Dr. Jane Garfield. “One is that it will be very important to go to electronic medical records, which is very expensive.”
Switching to electronic records, as required by the Affordable Care Act, would cost the clinic $20,000 to $25,000, according to Garfield.
An added financial stressor is that more patients are uninsured and unable to pay for visits out of pocket. For those patients who are insured, insurance companies routinely reimburse at less than the full cost of care.
MedNow also has struggled to find adequate medical staff.
Garfield would have liked to hire a second doctor.
“It’s been very difficult to recruit MDs up here because the pay scale is so low,” Garfield said.
“I have not taken a significant salary for some years,” she noted.
Garfield purchased MedNow in 1994. Dr. Dewey Richards first opened the clinic in Ellsworth in 1985.
MedNow moved to its current location at 5 Long Lane behind Mr. Quick’s in 2007. The clinic used to be where the Walgreens parking lot is now.
A New York City native, Garfield is a retired associate professor of clinical medicine at New York University. She worked for 25 years at university-affiliated Bellevue Hospital.
Garfield’s professional career also included a 10-year stint running clinics in the outer islands of the Bahamas and five years as a medical director at a private company.
“I wanted to practice clinical medicine seeing patients,” Garfield said of taking over MedNow.
About half of MedNow patients visit by appointment and the rest are walk-ins.
“It’s a very wide-based practice,” Garfield said.