The Regional Medical Center's primary care facility in Denmark will officially close Aug. 10 after eight years of treating patients, the hospital announced Wednesday.
“The closing of the Denmark Primary Care practice is strictly a business decision," RMC President and CEO Charles E. Williams said in a press release.
"RMC is currently building a freestanding emergency department located outside of Denmark on Highway 70 to serve both Bamberg and Barnwell counties which will be opened by the end of the year,” he said. “While we regret the necessity of closing the Denmark practice, our focus is on ensuring that the Bamberg Barnwell Emergency Medical Center is successful.”
The Denmark Primary Care center, located at 5073 Carolina Highway, served 1,100 patients.
But Williams said the practice has not been financially viable.
"The practice has operated at a loss year to date, and has historically not been profitable," Williams explained via email. "RMC has had a difficult year financially, but has had a positive bottom line for the past four months."
"Part of the reason for that turnaround has been the result of continuously evaluating how to best utilize our resources," he said. "The provider of this practice resigned and the decision was made not to recruit and rehire."
Williams said there are no plans to close any other primary care practices at this time.
He said providers located nearby include the Family Health Center in Denmark, which opened last year, and RMC Primary Care in Bamberg.
“We realize changing primary care providers and locations can be an emotional experience,” Williams said. "We thank the patients of RMC Primary Care–Denmark for trusting us with their care and look forward to the possibility of serving them at other locations.”
Denmark Primary Care patient Keathen Wilson is one of the patients seeking a new doctor.
"I am concerned whenever we lose an opportunity to have access to medical care," Wilson said. "I hope the powers that be are examining that and looking at the value that an office like this brings and how will we cover the needs of this community."
RMC Primary Care–Denmark patients were notified by letter of the closure to ensure a smooth transition to other primary care providers, Williams said.
Dr. Tara Hook will continue seeing patients on Tuesdays through Aug. 7.
The practice’s previous clinician, Rachel R. Danford, resigned July 16. The office has had one provider and two non-clinical staff members. It opened in April 2010.
Wilson has been a patient at the Denmark doctor's office for the past year.
"It was very convenient for me," he said.
Wilson said switching doctors is not easy.
"It makes a difference," Wilson said. "Some doctors you can work well with. They take time. And other doctors have a different philosophy and approach."
Wilson described Danford as an “outstanding nurse practitioner.”
"She really made me feel comfortable with helping me manage my health issues," he said.
Wilson says he has already contacted the Bamberg office and has set up a future appointment.
The Denmark Primary Care facility is one of eight primary care practices RMC has maintained.
The primary care centers are governed by Edisto Regional Health Services, a not-for-profit health care corporation formed in 1997. Affiliated with the RMC, the ERHS provides practice management expertise and staff for the RMC primary care medical practices.
The office staff at RMC Primary Care–Denmark will keep regular business hours through August 10 to help patients establish care with another RMC Primary Care provider, request prescription refills and obtain medical records.
To help ensure continuity of care, RMC Primary Care encourages patients to contact the Denmark practice, sooner rather than later, by calling 803-395-3048.