Coastside Family Medical Center closes

Breaking news

Posted by on Sat, March 14, 2009

The Coastside Family Medical Center located in the Shoreline Center shopping area closed its doors to business at noon Friday, and plans to fill bankruptcy papers within the next two weeks.  All of the Clinic’s 35 employees are being released.  Coastside is a nonprofit that logs 22,000 patient visits in a year—including a number of CUSD employees and students.

If you are a patient of Coastside, please be advised that you will find doors closed and locked at this time.  For medical records or prescription information, write a letter attention "Medical Records" to CFMC, 225 S. Cabrillo Highway, Suite 100A, HMB, or fax the instruction to: 650.726.9317.  General inquiries can be directed to Bob Harless at [email protected]

CFMC’s press release after the jump.

March 13,2009
Contact: Bob Harless or Vince Thomas Phone: (650) 712-2311 or 712-2324

Coastside Family Medical Center ("CFMC") permanently closed on Friday, March 13,2009. The closure was necessitated by declining revenues and the inability, despite sustained efforts, to obtain outside financial support to close the gap between revenue and expenses. CFMC assumed the operation from Stanford Hospitals and Clinics in 2001. CFMC was incorporated as a nonprofit by a group of concerned residents and has operated as such since, without government assistance. Until now, it had been able to meet operating shortfalls through the generosity of citizens and two major medical organizations, Mills Peninsula and Stanford. CFMC’s mission was to provide medical services to the entire Coastside community, and equally to the uninsured and under-insured. This "hybrid" model of clinic was unusual. Recent economic events served to worsen CFMC’s prospects of operating as a viable entity, to the point that CFMC was simply not meeting its operating expenses and its operating deficit became insurmountable.

The Board of Directors pursued numerous alternatives unsuccessfully over the past months, including donor funds, mergers, outright acquisition, available government programs and certifications.

Bankruptcy counsel has been retained. There will most likely be a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, and it is expected that patient files will be stored by the bankruptcy trustee for a reasonable period of time after the petition is filed and that assistance will be provided to patients to claim their medical files. In the mean time, patient records have been secured. Patients are urged to promptly contact CFMC to obtain their medical records. Inquiries can be made by contacting CFMC at its address, 225 S. Cabrillo Highway, Ste. 100A, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, attention "Medical Records", or by faxing the instruction to: (650)726-9317. General inquiries should be directed to [email protected] or rha [email protected]

The Board of Directors, doctors, other medical providers and staff have enjoyed the privilege of serving the Coastside for eight years. The Board extends its deepest thanks to the community for its generous financial contributions and other support which have made this work possible.

This is heartbreaking.  It’s a tremendous blow to the community, the center’s employees, and to the folks who relied on the center for medical care.

I’d been there a few times and it always seemed from the waiting room that a large percentage of their patients were people who had no other way to get medical treatment.

Comment 2
Sat, March 14, 2009 12:56pm
Bob Poole
All my comments

One of the things I find really amazing is that up to this time yours was the only comment. Well, it is the weekend, and maybe not that many people are signed up for alerts, still…

Surely this didn’t come totally out of the blue. How did the County and city, and community at large allow this to happen?

It’s a sad day for our community and the people that were served by this clinic. I worked with Bob Harless for a short period of time and I know some of the huge mountains he had to overcome to make the clinic a permanent fixture. He is a great guy and was in my opinion the best chance that the clinic had to stay open. I guess that just wasn’t enough.
I wish Bob and his team and all of the medical staff there much luck in their future endeavors.

How did it happen ?
I am not entirely sure. I would tend to go down the road of out of sight out of mind. People with insurance and the means to get private medical care just never went to this clinic. The clients were mostly under insured or not insured people that had no where else to go. We all know how loud the voice of these people is. This leads to people with no money not being able to pay for the care they receive and no funds coming in to run the clinic. I think it was that simple. I know they had staff that were solely dedicated to looking for grants and other means to make up the difference. I guess the current economy and available funds for this great community resource finally dried up.

Something that isn’t reported here that I would like to add in is that this clinic had a second site in Pescadero at the Elementary School that took care of a ton of people. I assume that that site is closing as well.

Something will have to take the place of this service. 22,000 patient visits a year is a HUGE amount of people.

I guess it surprises me that not more people with insurance used the clinic. I have insurance and have been using it exclusively for years. I could not have been more happy with the staff and service. At least I can get over the hill when needed, but what about all the poor people who aren’t that lucky???

So sad…

It always seemed that the CFMC has been on the brink of implosion for years, but I hadn’t heard much lately on the matter. It’s easy to be complacent about their future when they always seem to be skirting disaster.

These days, everybody who serves the underprivileged is facing more demand and lower revenue.

It may be too late for CFMC, but it’s not too late for the other institutions we care about and those that we know are the last line of defense for thousands of Coastsiders.

If you feel bad about losing the medical center, and you should, now is a good time to make a donation to Coastside Hope, Sonrisas, or someone else that you know is serving people in desperate situations.

It’s odd how there seems to be (or, was) two distinct medical systems here on the coast—one invisible to the other.

When I first moved here I had some minor thing (I forget what now) and my regular doctor was way over the hill. I just needed a prescription for antibiotics or something.

So I went to Seton. For reasons that are unclear they couldn’t just let me see a doctor, they had to make a big deal of it. Wanted to charge me a lot of money (I think I didn’t have my health card yet—we were new).

They said that there was some sort of out-patient care place in HMB. Wasn’t sure of the name. Not sure where it was.

So I go to Longs. Then to Rite-Aid. Then to Pacifica’s Rite-Aid. I looked all over trying to find this “Coastside” place asking pharmacy employees for info—some places never heard of it, some had but didn’t know it’s name or where it was.

Very weird.

Then I’m in Long’s, having finally getting my prescription filled and I’m talking to the guy in front of me in line and end up telling him how I’d been looking all over for the mysterious clinic. Turns out he is the head of the Coastside Medical Center.

I found it after all!


BTW, Seton is one of the Coastside’s gems. I’ve been there more than a couple of times with emergencies and have gotten fast, friendly quality care that I don’t think I could have gotten at any other ER in the Bay Area.

I’ve been using the clinic for most of the 27 years I’ve been on the Coastside.  It never occured to me that it was mostly used by the uninsured.  I knew they’d had financial problems in the past, but I’m totally caught off guard by the closure, having heard nothing that would have indicated this.  No recent news coverage that I’ve seen…how did this get by me?  I called last week to make an appt with Dr. Page, whom I love and have been seeing for years, and they told me she was booked this past week, and on vacation next week.  Were they all blindsided?  Does anyone know how we can stay in touch with our doctors?

Everything else aside, it seems like this was handled badly. With a little notice, people with on going medical problems, especially those with pending appointments, could have had a chance to do some planning. Perhaps the community should have been more supportive, but this abrupt closure seems insensitive and a real slap in the face.

I find the closing of the CFMC extremely unfortunate.  Our family has been using the clinic for the past 17+ years(my daughters have gone since infancy) - and we have insurance.  Indeed it was a mixed use facility, but clearly the clinic was not just serving the underprivileged.  I am most concerned about those people in our community who do not have “easy” access to medical care.  At least having the CFMC, people could get to the clinic by foot or bus - it was local. I’m am not sure where these folks will go at this point.  The other aspect of the clinic that was extremely helpful to the community was the “Just for Teens” clinic on Monday evenings - allowing teens to seek healthcare and advice for free.  I also find the way the clinic was closed quite irresponsible.  We happened to find out through community “gossip” that the clinic was closed as of Friday.  No notification before the fact. No guidance as to what to do - especially if you are having ongoing care at this point.  No discussion in the newspaper.( I was also told that non of the employees were given advance warning of the closing - only to find out midday Friday)  Given the size of the population of the Coastside,  the number of people who depend on the clinic, and the fact that we need a local health care facility on the Coast,  I find it very sad and frustrating that somehow we could not have found a way to maintain the CFMC as a viable entity.  Anja

I’d like to suggest that we all write to our county and state representatives to register our opinions on this sad event.