Overlake Medical Center didn’t give their geriatric patients on the Island much notice. In a letter sent to patients, dated Nov. 29, signed by Alan Ertle, chief medical officer, the last day of operation for the Mercer Island clinic will be Dec. 30.
“This was something unexpected, under unforeseen circumstances, not budget related,” said hospital spokesperson Mary Beth Walker.
Walker said she couldn’t say much, but repeated that the decision to close the Island clinic was not budget related, and that Overlake was empathetic to the patients on the Island who have used the facility.
Walker said they welcome Mercer Island patients to their senior health facility near the Overlake Hospital Medical Center on 112th Street N.E. in Bellevue. When asked if Overlake would provide a shuttle or some sort of transportation for the elderly, Walker said no.
The doctors at the Mercer Island clinic were on contract with Northwest Geriatrics, which does not have a bricks and mortar location. A representative for Northwest Geriatrics said they are very sad, because the patients are the ones who are hurt. The representative said the doctors will now spend more time in nursing homes, adding that Overlake didn’t give the patients much time to find a new doctor.
In a letter from Northwest Geriatrics to its patients, it says “without the backing of a large institution like Overlake Hospital Medical Center, this closure brings to an end the ability for us to provide you with the level of geriatric primary care and patient satisfaction that you deserve. Overlake Hospital Medical Center has not made any accommodations for us to continue seeing you in the Overlake System as your primary care doctors. All of us here at Northwest Geriatrics are saddened by this decision.”
Ruth Lawson, who resides in Covenant Shores, has been in the care of one of Northwest Geriatrics doctors for two years. She said it was miserable of Overlake to do this, especially with regard to timing. Lawson said Dec. 7 was the last day for seniors to make changes to their Medicare plans for 2012.
“It was really a blow,” she said.
Dr. John Addison, who was one of the contract doctors with Northwest Geriatrics, has been coming to Covenant Shores twice monthly to see patients. He will be visiting patients at Covenant Shores maybe one more day each month, Lawson said. She said she will probably have her medical records transferred to Addison.
Lawson said this is especially difficult for seniors on the Island who don’t drive, or who won’t drive off the Island because they’re afraid of driving on the interstate. Lawson, who does drive, said she volunteers for King County Senior Services, driving seniors to doctors appointments, walking in with them and often waiting.
Doug Kirk with Property Management Northwest, Inc., which manages the building where the Mercer Island clinic is located, said Overlake has another year left on its lease. What will happen with the space is unknown at press time. Kirk could not comment on whether or not the management company would allow Overlake to sublet the space.
The letter from Northwest Geriatrics also states that the patients were welcome to write to Ertle about their displeasure with this decision.