FARMINGTON — San Juan Regional Medical Center will close its Bloomfield clinic in June and relocate the staff to the Aztec clinic.
The move is intended to help the medical center deal with a nearly $10 million funding deficit.
The San Juan Health Partners clinic on North Church Street in Bloomfield will close on June 1. Staff and services will be consolidated into the Aztec clinic on Llano Street. Hospital officials say it's a way to cope both with a drop in funding from the state and with a nearly $370,000 annual operating loss at the Bloomfield site.
"We had to figure out a way to continue to provide access and care to the citizens of Bloomfield and do it in a more economical way," said San Juan Regional Medical Center CEO Rick Wallace. "The best alternative was to consolidate the Bloomfield clinic into the Aztec clinic."
Fewer visits among existing patients and a lack of new patients also contributed to closing the Bloomfield clinic, Wallace said.
"The unfortunate thing is when we look at the numbers, the Bloomfield clinic is not growing," he said. "It hasn't grown in nearly five years."
In July 2011, the clinic saw 401 patient visits, and that number dropped to 259 in February, Wallace said. In July 2012, the clinic had 16 new patients, while there were 10 new patients in February.
Bloomfield patients traveling eight miles to Aztec will find a larger and remodeled facility with more doctors to handle their care more efficiently, said Penny Hill, the Family Practice Services director for the Aztec and Bloomfield clinics.
"I'm hoping we can improve care for them," Hill said. "We'll have more physicians available to see the patients."
The five-person staff at the Bloomfield clinic, including Dr. Frank Arnold, will move to the Aztec clinic.
Hill said reaction from some patients has been fine, but others, who are accustomed to visiting the Bloomfield clinic, were shocked.
Changes in programs that fund care for indigent patients or patients who are underinsured, uninsured or on Medicaid led the San Juan Regional Medical Center to lose about $26 million it receives annually, Wallace said.
The state's Department of Human Resources redesigned the Sole Community Provider program. The program — which helped hospitals throughout the state, including San Juan Regional Medical Center, fund care — has been replaced with a new program called the Safety Net Care Pool Fund.
The changes, Wallace said, mean San Juan Regional Medical Center won't receive any funding from the Safety Net Care Pool Fund.
Wallace said the loss of about $26 million is based on budget calculations for the upcoming year. The hospital will recoup some money through Medicaid changes and other programs, he said. But even with that, the medical center still faces about a $10 million deficit, Wallace said.
"I believe they are taking the money away prematurely," Wallace said.