Paris SSM Clinic Abruptly Closes: Will Provide Limited Services until October 17
September 27, 2017
by Beth Weber
Cherie Graupman, office clerk at the Paris SSM Health Medical Group, may still have a job, but it won't be in the Paris clinic. She and the rest of the staff at the facility found out Monday, September 18, that the clinic would be closing on the afternoon of Friday, September 22. Dr. Sudhansu Kothary will be seeing patients in Paris on Tuesdays through the October 17, but after that, patients will need to see him at the Perry clinic or seek health care through another provider. Graupman says the decision took the entire staff by surprise. The explanation was "low patient volume," according to Graupman, who was not authorized to comment beyond reading the press release given to her by the administration. She was shocked and uncertain about her employment. "They told us, 'We will try and work you into the system'," she said, "but I live here." Graupman was not the only one stunned by the abrupt announcement. Jessica Chase found out about the clinic's closing on Friday morning when she brought in her youngest child who had a fever. As a parent with ten children total, eight still at home, she was angry that she had not been notified prior to walking into the clinic and talking with the staff. She noted that the clinic had yet to post a sign outside about the closing. In fact, the only sign on the window advertised house plants for sale inside. Chase is a foster mother and is well aware of the rules involving foster children's healthcare. Foster children are on Medicaid, and their healthcare providers are assigned to them by the program. Chase said, "Not only is it a hardship; it's a huge inconvenience." While waiting to see the doctor, Chase called the SSM administration to complain and was told that letters would be mailed to each of the clinic's patients to let them know of the change. Also, each patient would receive a phone call about the matter. The explanation did not calm Chase who wondered what she would have done if her child had been sick after the clinic closed and before the notifications arrived. She also questioned the "low patient volume." "This (clinic) is so busy that you have to be squeezed in." Katie Riechmann, SSM representative, sounded weary when she explained that the information she had was limited and that she understood that people were upset. She had been "getting plenty of phone calls" and she had listened to more than a few angry and vocal residents. Jessica Royston, Marketing and Communications Manager of SSM Health Mid-Missouri Region could not explain why the clinic had been closed so abruptly. She stressed that "SSM Health remains committed to ensuring our rural communities have access to exceptional health care services" and that "the clinic in Paris has been under-utilized for quite some time." Royston also asserted that the Perry clinic sees a larger volume of patients and will be able to handle the patients from Paris as well. The SSM clinic will be able to electronically transfer patient records to Perry or any other facility in the SSM network. The Perry clinic will not be extending its hours but will continue to be open four days a week.