CCPs physician-owners have failed our community, failed the Hilltowns

To the Editor:

Last week, The Enterprise announced the closure of the Berne Capital Care Physicians Family Practice in Berne [“End of an era: Berne doctor’s office to close,” May 30, 2019]. On June 3, I received a form letter from CCP informing me that the practice was closing in nine business days, on June 14.

That letter was addressed to “Valued Patients and Friends.” It informed me of “some important changes occurring at CapitalCare Practice in Berne because of the departure of Dr. Kristin Mack, the office physician.

“The important changes”:

—CCP is unilaterally extending the distance to primary care for every patient;

— CCP is terminating all existing patient-provider relationships;

— CCP is terminating two office-community partnerships established by Dr. Mack with community volunteers (i.e., the Vitalist Grant Demonstration Project, and negotiations with Albany County concerning resource development for opioid reduction and treatment);

— CCP is closing one of Berne’s largest businesses, leaving the medical office building vacant;

— CCP is eliminating a source of professional employment for area residents. It has not offered current employees continuing employment; and

— CCP is ending a long and proud history of extraordinary community-based health care in the Hilltowns.

The letter mistakenly thanks the reader for “your trust and understanding during this transition.” I do not understand, and without understanding, trust may have to wait a while.

It is hard to understand that a corporation with CCP’s resources cannot imagine a way to continue Hilltown-based services; hard to believe that CCP did not enter into service here without a business plan that addressed such a predictable event as the departure of a physician; and hard to believe that a modern, sophisticated company is now hapless and inept in the face of one employee’s departure.

Whoever wrote this letter — it is not signed by an individual human being — is also wrong with respect to the word “transition.” This is not a transition; this action is an end.

And finally, the writer is wrong again when he or she declares: “Please know that we share your disappointment with this closure.” It is anger, not disappointment, that I feel, and no, you do not understand. Not even close.

CCP had other options. It could have seen this community as an exciting and vital model for modern rural medical practice, one honoring the legendary individuals like Perkins, Smith, and Kolanchick by continuing and growing the 21st-Century innovations being developed by Dr. Mack.

It might have appreciated and supported an office that was marking CCP as effective and imaginative in its outreach to inhabitants of a rural region. It might have distinguished itself by showing the corporate ingenuity necessary for success in a very difficult contemporary medical market.

Instead, the bulk of the CCP letter is used to direct its “Valued Patients and Friends ... to locations more conveniently located for the corporation.”

After declaring its corporate helplessness in the face of Dr. Mack’s departure, COO Joan Hayner shrugs off the consequences to patients and community, explaining to The Enterprise last week that “It’s a relatively small practice.”

Small perhaps to CCP, not so small to us.

CCPs physician-owners have failed our community, failed the Hilltowns. The company made implicit promises and accepted an obligation to our region when it purchased the practice just a few short years ago.

It has now abandoned that community, leaving patients — those who can travel, anyway — with instructions to its larger, presumably more profitable locations. These doctors/businessmen could have done better, should have done better.

Raymond Schimmer


Editor’s note: Raymond Schimmer, an emergency medical technician on the Helderberg Ambulance squad, worked as a vitalist, making visits to homebound patients and communicating with Dr. Mack via computer.

More Letters to the Editor

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.