Creston doctors locked out of Osprey Medical Clinic

Patients with appointments at the Osprey Medical Clinic got a rude surprise when they got a phone call saying the clinic had closed.

  • Feb. 4, 2014 8:00 p.m.

Lorne Eckersley/Creston Valley Advance

Patients with appointments at the Osprey Medical Clinic got a rude surprise when they got a phone call saying the clinic had closed. A notice on the door now reads: “Osprey Medical Clinic is now closed. If this an emergency: Please go directly to the hospital or call 911.”

“We were unable to reach an agreement with the doctors that would make this a self-sustaining business,” said Ken Gadicke, a Creston accountant who owns Osprey Medical Clinic in partnership with his former accounting firm partner, Rick Minichiello. “It is unfortunate that it has come to this but we couldn’t keep it going. We had no choice but to close it.”

A message being distributed to patients by three physicians who worked out of the clinic at the Creston Valley Mall, Drs. Raphael Elemuo, Tara Guthrie and Susan Hopkins isn’t quite so diplomatic:

“The owners of Osprey Medical Clinic breached our contracts in January of this year. In response to our request that they honour the terms of our contract, they have locked us out and closed the clinic without notice.

“We are currently working to find an interim solution that would allow us to serve our patients while we relocate. Should you have an urgent medical problem during this time, please attend the emergency department at the Creston Valley Hospital.

“As your physicians, we sincerely regret the inconvenience to you and appreciate your patience and understanding during this difficult time. We would like to assure you that we continue to be committed to our patients and will keep you informed as further information becomes available.”

“There was no notice,” Elemuo said when the three physicians met to speak with the Advance on Monday morning. “We didn’t even tell our patients.”

Elemuo immigrated from South Africa and started his practice in Osprey Medical Clinic on Oct. 3, 2011. His contract with the clinic is for three years, he said. Hopkins and Guthrie said their contracts do not have end dates.

Guthrie said the clinic’s finances were brought up by Gadicke in a meeting with the doctors last March.

“Then we didn’t hear another thing until January,” when, the physicians said, their contracts were breached.

Under the terms of their contracts, doctors work for the clinic, which bills the health system for their services in return for 30 per cent of all billing generated within the clinic. The 30 per cent is meant to fund the clinic’s staff, management, equipment and rent.

“When I was doing my research before relocating to Creston I found that the 30/70 split was a standard practice in most clinics,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins said that once the doctors believed the clinic had breached their contract they sought representation by a law firm.

“We knew things might not work out, but we expected at the very worst we would have a month’s notice to relocate,” she said.

On Friday afternoon, the clinic’s locks were changed. Guthrie, the only doctor working in the clinic at the time, was busy seeing patients and was unaware of the lock change when she left work that day.

“I don’t lock up and nobody told me,” she said. “I can’t even describe how I feel about getting zero notice that the clinic was closing. And now I feel terrible because I left another clinic to work at Osprey and my patients are being affected.”

While the doctors’ access to patient medical records had not been locked out this morning, they said there was no certainty about what it would take to assure their access to the files in the near future.

“The files are electronic and there is no concern for their security,” Guthrie said. “But we need to find a way to continue to look after our patients. No one in the medical system seems to know what to do next as they haven’t seen this situation happen before.”

“This is an unusual situation,” Hopkins admitted. “We appreciate all the efforts that have been made by the [Creston Health Working Group] to recruit us to Creston and we know that everyone is trying to find a solution that is best for our patients.”

“We are shocked, completely taken aback,” Elemuo said.

Creston Mayor Ron Toyota said that the health working group and elected officials would not get involved with what has become a legal dispute.

“But we will work to ensure that patients are able to get the treatment they deserve from their doctors,” he said. “I know that temporary alternatives have been offered and that no one will rest until patients’ needs are being met.”

Regional District of Central Kootenay Area B director John Kettle, who also chairs the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District board, said today that there is no role for the hospital district to play in the dispute.

“But a temporary premises in the hospital has been offered and I know that that our health care system will co-operate in finding a solution that works for the patients,” he said.

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Kimberley residents were treated to the first Farmers' Market of the season, and the feeling of a return to normalcy. Paul Rodgers photos.
WATCH: Kimberley’s first Farmers’ Market of the season

Kimberley residents enjoyed the first Farmers’ Market of the year on Thursday,… Continue reading

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read