WESTMINSTER — Med-Care Inc., a walk-in medical center located at Crossroad Square shopping center, will close permanently Wednesday, Jan. 15. Patients who are being seen at the medical center or who have consulted a Med-Care physician within the past two years are being notified of the change and referred to other doctors in the area. "Over the past three months or so, the patient load was no longer there," said Charles Graf, president of the Carroll County Health Services. "Patients were finding other means of medical service with other walk-in centers available or with personal physicians. Without those volumes, you can't maintain a center of that kind."
A local physicians association of 11 doctors has operated Med-Care since the mid-1980s, providing general medical services to the community.
In March, Med-Care became a joint venture of Carroll County Med-Services Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of Carroll County General Hospital and the physicians partnership.
"The number of patients we had hoped to see never materialized, which was a strong indication that patient needs were being adequately met by primary-care physicians in the area, other medical centers, and the hospital's Emergency Department," said K. Wayne Lockard, Med-Services president.
"It becameapparent to us that keeping Med-Care open was an unnecessary duplication of medical services. As a hospital, we are responsible for trying to keep medical costs down."
He said that by closing Med-Care, "we are making every effort to be responsive to concerns" about risinghealth-care costs.
"At the time it was started, the center serveda useful purpose for patients who needed urgent care or who didn't have a family physician," said Dr. Vincent Fiocco Jr., an internist and one of the 11 physician partners who has been involved in Med-Care.
"The volumes have dropped since then, so apparently, people no longer perceive this type of facility as fulfilling their needs."
Hesaid Med-Care was in the process of informing patients about the center's January closing date and providing them with referrals to otherphysicians in the area.
"There are several other walk-in facilities in the community," Lockard said. "Many patients will also go back to their original physicians.
"The hospital (Carroll County General) is providing them with referrals to identify other possible sources."
To ensure continuity of care, Med-Care's medical director, Dr.Alva S. Baker Jr., will be assuming responsibility of patient medical records.
He will be available at Med-Care at 857-5800 until the center closes. After Jan. 15, Med-Care patients can obtain their records by contacting Baker at 876-7902.
Baker also will be available to provide medical services to Med-Care patients in his new office at140 Village Shopping Center.
At that location, medical services will be available by appointment, with a limited number of daily walk-in appointments for patients who need to be seen on an urgent or same-day basis.
He will continue to care for workman's compensation cases and will be a participating physician in Medicare, Blue Shield, Medical Assistance, as well as a number of HMOs and managed-care plans.
Med-Care is also referring patients to Promptcare, a walk-in medical center with extended evening and weekend hours in the Hunter Building, 912 Washington Road. For information about Promptcare, call 848-1670.
The hospital's Physician Referral Service is also coordinating patient referrals to local doctors free of charge.
The referral service is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at 857-6901.
Physician referrals are made on the basis of specialty and location.