I closed Quimper Family Medicine on January 6, 2021.
The business itself is not closed because it takes a while to close a clinic. I can't actually completely close it until 2022 because I have to file final taxes. I am still trying to collect final money from insurance companies.
January 6 was the last day that I saw my patients. That was both hard and a relief.
We sent the letter in early November. I had 650 active patients and 550 who had been seen within the last three years. I sent 550 letters and signed every one. Then we had two months of people coming in to see us, sad that we were closing. I was sad too. QFM was open for ten years, almost 11. In the last month some people really just came in to say goodbye, with either a flimsy medical excuse or none. I hate goodbyes. It was sad but everyone was so nice.
It was a relief because it was not working financially. I had mortgaged my house to open the clinic. I remortgaged the house to pay off the business loan. At the end of ten years, basically I owed the same amount on my house and had saved very little money.
So, was it a failure? No. I worked part time running this clinic for ten years. I did good medicine, I helped a lot of people. I saw about half the number of patients daily that a conventional clinic sees. I might have done better financially by refusing insurance and accepting only cash, but I really like my 80 year olds that live on fixed income and I won't see them if I don't take insurance. I was raising two kids as a single parent and that is where the success lies. They are both done with college, had jobs all through covid, one has finished his masters and the other is doing hers. My beloved cat died last February. So now the nest is empty and it is time to go earn money for retirement.
On to the present assignment. I am working as a locum tenens, a temp doc. I have a 6 month assignment. They are paying me more weekly than I was paying myself monthly. I switched to a PO Box, since I am gone from home mostly, and the checks got delayed. I finally got three checks all at once. The goal is to be able to retire in 5 years if I want to. I think it's achievable, barring illness or other disasters.
The present assignment is for six months. This is the fifth week. The electronic medical record is very rich in features, so rich that providers who have been there a year tell me that they still don't understand much of it. Isn't it wonderful to have additional opportunities for lifetime learning besides just the rapid changes in medicine? The organization showed its deep faith in my ability to learn by teaching me the whole EMR in one 8 hour class and then setting me loose on patients the next week. They started with five in a day and ramped up to 18 by the 9th day. This shows vast and enormous faith in me. Perhaps a bit too much. I have envisioned taking an ax to the computer at times, but I am now gaining ground. There has been quite a bit of doctor turnover chaos as well, which leads the patient problem list to remind me of a hoarder house: 25 active problems, gosh. Yesterday I attained permission to clean up the hoarding and also was trained. Though the training is see one, remember it, and sometimes I need to see two. Or three. The emr is so rich in ways to do things that if I ask three different people how to do the same thing, they show me three different ways to do it. Ah, the feeling of richness, like being in Scrooge McDuck's vault, swimming in choices in the emr.
I have an apartment in the town where I am working, courtesy of the locums company, and I can drive back home in an hour. I have Thursdays "off" which means Thursday is the day I work on Quimper Family Medicine. I had to pay a tail, which means pay my malpractice to cover everything for the next ten years. The records have to be kept and released at request for ten years as well (up to age 21 for minors) and I paid a company to take that over. Those two are the big closing expense, coming in at around 10K each. I got a PPP loan, but the Small Business Association is apparently backed up and hasn't told me if I can keep it, though I've turned in all my paperwork. Ah, well. I can pay it back if needed. I have to keep the business records for ten years too so my house now has the guest room turned into a three giant file cabinet plus boxes home office. I turned the key in February 10th, with the lease ending February 11th. Getting rid of all the clinic stuff was a circus with me finding stuff I didn't know we had. Of course.
Anyhow, that's the news from Lizard Land. Be careful out there.