The Bridgeport Clinic closed on February 1. Patronage had declined, and, according to the contracted health facility providing services, the Southern Mono Healthcare District (Mammoth Hospital), it has been impossible to find qualified providers and staff. Some Bridgeport citizens believe the clinic is closing due to mismanagement.
The lack of immediate medical services has alarmed residents during this winter’s storms that have closed Highway 395 at both ends of the County Seat on multiple occasions.
Mono County Administrator Leslie Chapman explained at the Mono County Supervisor’s meeting on Tuesday, February 7, that patient numbers dropped dramatically after long-time physician assistant Bill Todd left for unknown reasons.
Todd was replaced by whomever could cover the schedule, leaving patients unsure who they were going to see at their next appointment. The hours became unreliable, Supervisor John Peters said.
Pam Newhard told the Supervisors that when Todd left, so did she. “We never knew who was going to be there.”
“I was never sick on the right day,” Steve Noble, owner of the Ruby Inn, said at the meeting.
As of Wednesday, February 8, more than 277 people had signed an online petition, “Bridgeport Needs Our Clinic” addressed to the Supervisors, expressing the importance of a local clinic. Both locals and visitors alike signed the petition.
Noble told The Sheet in an interview Tuesday that he believes there are several reasons the clinic closed: Bridgeport has been slow to come out of the recession, and people haven’t been able to afford to see a doctor as often.
Peters said the clinic’s decline has been gradual. “More residents attended the clinic when hours and staff were consistent. But for the last few years, there has been a turnover in personnel and a cut in hours and people stopped going. Fewer patients mean less revenue which means fewer hours of operation,” he said in an email to The Sheet.
In a letter to County Supervisors in January, Mammoth Hospital CEO Gary Myers said recruitment efforts for qualified professionals to operate the clinic have been unsuccessful. The clinic saw between 6 and 12 patients a day, according to Myers, but would need to serve 20 to 25 daily to cover operating costs. The clinic was only taking in half the income needed for it to operate, even with subsidies from Mono County.