Rural clinic operated by Via Christi Villages closed

07/16/2014 9:27 AM

08/08/2014 10:25 AM

A rural health clinic in Victoria operated by Via Christi Villages closed July 1.

Doug Frihart, senior regional operations officer for Via Christi Villages, which has operated the clinic near Hays since 2007, said the inability to maintain staff and operate enough hours to generate revenue were the reasons Via Christi could no longer operate the clinic.

Via Christi offered sponsorship of the clinic to other organizations, including Victoria, but city officials did not find it viable, Frihart said. The city had provided rent-free space for the clinic for years, he said.

“We were hoping to find other sponsorship and just weren’t able to find another group to take that on at this time,” Frihart said. “The clinic provided excellent services to folks in Victoria and Ellis County and we came to this decision slowly and painfully and regretfully.

“The city wasn’t comfortable taking on ownership of the clinic and employment of clinicians. It’s not a simple thing to operate a rural health clinic. You have to file Medicare cost reports, renew agreements with insurance companies to cover patients. It’s not their area of expertise and they weren’t able to take that on.”

The clinic employed several part-time nurse practitioners and one physician as medical director.

“It was very difficult to maintain good continuity,” Frihart said.

Initially, the clinic was open weekdays but that was extended to half days on Saturdays as well about three or four years ago, Frihart said.

However, the clinic was recently down to two part-time nurse practitioners and was not able to maintain that schedule.

“For the clinic to cover expenses, we needed it to operate five to five and a half days a week,” Frihart said. “Over the last 15 months we were only able to keep it open four or four and a half days a week.”

About 53 percent of the clinic’s patients came from Hays, Frihart said. When it was operating at full capacity, it saw between 220 and 240 patients each month.

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