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What's Happening in Health Care?

Are We Losing Primary Care Providers?

Jill BowenJill Bowen

We are both losing and gaining primary care providers, actually.

Dr. Amy Roberts, a well-established primary care physician in our community, has announced in a letter to her patients that she will be closing her practice for personal reasons.  I fully understand and support Dr. Robert’s decision and join the entire NMC family in wishing her all the best.  In time we hope to see her return to the practice setting.  This comes on the heels of the resignation of Dr. Brad Reynolds and the retirement of Rosaire Bisson, a long-time Physician Assistant, at NOTCH (Northern Tier Center for Health).  Access to primary care continues to be a significant concern, particularly given the uncertainty of healthcare reform and with other regulatory demands and reimbursement reductions making sustaining a private practice even more challenging.

Dr. Roberts’ news means many people in our community are now looking for a new primary care provider.  The telephone in our Community Relations Office has been very busy as our staff works with people to assist with their search.  Fortunately, practices throughout northwestern Vermont are accepting new patients. 

Northwestern Primary Care (NPC) has recently welcomed Dr. Jun Fu and Dr. Juan Carlos Nunez to their practice.  Both have ties to New York, so they are not completely new to our area of the country: Dr. Fu completed her Internal Medicine Residency at New York Medical College’s Mount Vernon Hospital and Dr. Nunez completed his Internal Medicine Residency at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, New York.   They join the team of providers at NPC which includes Max Bayard, MD; Doreen Benoit, NP; Molly Somaini, PA-C; and Kylee Ladd, PA-C.  All of these primary care providers are accepting new patients.  As a side note, some people have reported a rumor that Dr. Bayard is leaving.  Based on my conversations with Dr. Bayard, that is not his intention.  He is considering transitioning to his own private practice, but would do so here in our community. 

Further good news is that NOTCH is also accepting new patients in all five of their locations: Richford, Enosburg, Swanton, Alburgh, and St. Albans.  They recently welcomed Matthew Miffitt, NP, to their provider team.  In addition, many of the private practice primary care practices throughout the area are accepting new patients.  Dr. Corrigan’s office in Swanton recently welcomed Linda Bailey, NP, to their staff.  We are fortunate in this community to have a strong blend of Internal Medicine and Family Practice physicians who are joined by a growing contingent of Nurse Practitioners (NP) and Physician Assistants (PA).  Each office has a different mix of types of providers, all with the same goal of providing exceptional care for their patients.  The timing of “next available” new patient appointments varies by office.  Patients with acute, but non-emergent primary care needs may be able to be seen sooner depending on the office’s schedule.  The office staff in each practice will be able to assist you with their particular status and tell you how to have your records transferred. 

Should the primary care office of choice not be accessible, Northwestern Walk-In Clinic (on Route 7 in Georgia, near Exit 18 of I-89) is an option for pressing but non-emergent medical needs.  Emergency Departments should only be used when a medical emergency is suspected.

I am participating in ongoing conversations with the NOTCH leadership, members of our medical staff, and our Board to ensure our community has the appropriate access to primary care.  I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Fu, Dr. Nunez, Nurse Practitioner Miffitt, and Nurse Practitioner Bailey to the community as part of that effort.  Should you need assistance finding a primary care provider, you are welcome to call Janet Havrilko in NMC’s Community Relations Office at 524-1280.  Janet stays in touch with each of the primary care practices in our area and can help you with contact information.