April 08, 2020

St. Joseph Healthcare closes walk-in clinic

BREWER — St. Joseph Healthcare’s 2-year-old walk-in clinic here closed its doors for good Wednesday after six months of problems scheduling doctors to work there.

Staff members will remain on hand mornings through February at the Brewer Walk-in Center on South Main Street to return charts and help refer patients to other practices in the area.

“We’ve had an issue finding a permanent provider for the center, and it has affected the continuity of care for patients,” said Don Evans, St. Joseph Healthcare’s vice president for operations. “Without coming up with a full-time provider, it seemed better to assist the patients in finding a permanent doctor.”

Many different doctors, nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants had been recruited to spend time at the clinic in the absence of a regular staff physician. Medical staff were members of the Northeast Medical Service Organization, the St. Joseph-affiliated doctors’ group that collaborated with the hospital on the clinic project.

Run by Dr. Gary Ross for several years, the clinic provided easy access for patients who lacked a family doctor or could not get in to see their regular provider. The clinic was purchased by St. Joseph about two years ago, Evans said, after Ross decided to concentrate on his own private practice, still located in the same building.

Ross will expand his practice into the clinic’s space early this year, according to Evans. He said there were no financial problems with the clinic.

Staff at the clinic declined to comment on the closing Wednesday. Evans said some of the five full-time office employees will move into positions in the practices of Northeast MSO doctors. He said the hospital will help the others to look for jobs within St. Joseph Healthcare.

The closest remaining walk-in health center is Med Now in Orono.

“It’s been convenient for a lot of people,” Evans said. “I’m sure it will be missed.”

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