Cynder Sinclair

Paul Wellman (file)

Cynder Sinclair

Budget Ax Falls on Community Clinics

Cuts Made to Save $500,000

Thursday, October 25, 2012
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In an effort to save $500,000, four high-ranking administrators with the Santa Barbara Community Clinics were laid off last Friday, and two medical professionals were let go, as well. One victim of the fiscal bloodletting was Dennis Feeley, whose tenure with the confederation of four community clinics dates back 33 years. Another was seven-year deputy director Bonnie Campbell.

The cuts were necessary, said executive Cynder Sinclair, because of the high cost of complying with federal requirements that medical records be kept electronically. Sinclair estimated the direct and indirect costs of compliance were about $3.5 million: That’s for an organization with a $9.5-million annual budget. In addition, Sinclair said the clinics have had to hire two-and-a-half new medical professionals to deal with an anticipated 50-percent increase in patient load expected in January 2014. That’s in response to an expansion of Medi-Cal eligibility rules included in President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform bill.

The four neighborhood clinics composing the Santa Barbara Community Clinics currently provide primary-care services to about 17,000 clients a year ​— ​70,000 office visits ​— ​most of whom are uninsured and fall well below federal poverty guidelines. While the cuts came suddenly to those on the receiving end, Sinclair said the clinics’ board had deliberated long and hard over them. “We have no fat,” she said. Sinclair said she anticipates no further cuts will be necessary. “We’re already lean; that’s why it was so difficult.” In addition, she said, the clinics have been hurt by recent state reductions in Medi-Cal reimbursements and the outright elimination of state support for adult dental care.

Friday’s layoffs add another dimension to recent unrest surfacing at Santa Barbara’s Community Clinics. In January, clinic doctors and physicians’ assistants, voted to unionize after longtime medical director Neil Sullivan was removed from his post under circumstances still under dispute. Union supporters insist Sullivan was removed by Sinclair; Sinclair insists he resigned under his own steam. Sullivan, who is now working as a physician for the clinics and has been replaced as medical director, has yet to return several phone calls. In the meantime, the union and management are in negotiations.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Why does converting to digital cost so much and is this an on-going expense? Why did they let two medical professionals (and what are those, doctors, nurses?) go just as they are hiring 21/2 medical professionals. ...This is a frustrating story!

at_large (anonymous profile)
October 27, 2012 at 8:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Four high-ranking administrators laid off? You only mention two. What is the rest of the story.

Remind readers also how Obamacare mandates are going to save health care costs when half the annual budget was eaten up meeting Obamacare digital records mandate.

Plus disturbing studies show doctors are now digitally writing up medical procedures with only a push of a button that automatically provides a ready made list of medical directions, whether the patient needs it or not.

Surveys where digital records are being uses is already showing material increases in cost per patient. This Obamacare demand continues the precipitous slide of over-treatment, increasing costs, no discernible benefit to the patient and often iatrogenic harm.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
October 31, 2012 at 10:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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