Missing doctors: Patient seeks records after clinic closes

Dr. Zachary Bush, right, opened alternative clinic Revolution Health Center in Scottsville. Dr. Martin Katz was a partner there, and both told their patients: “You have the power to heal yourself.”

John Robinson Dr. Zachary Bush, right, opened alternative clinic Revolution Health Center in Scottsville. Dr. Martin Katz was a partner there, and both told their patients: “You have the power to heal yourself.” John Robinson

When a medical practice in Scottsville shut down and relocated to Charlottesville, a lupus-stricken patient was frantic, thinking 15 years’ worth of her medical records had vanished.

Jennie Hamilton-Thorne of Keene says she last visited a doctor at Revolution Health Center in December and was not notified the practice was moving in January. When she went back again in late April, the clinic had closed. She says she learned from Scottsville Pharmacy that the “doctors had left town.”

“I sent an e-mail in May, asking for my records because I did not wish to travel out to Charlottesville,” says Hamilton-Thorne. “I received no reply, so I called and left messages. I even wrote them.”

She says she received no response, leading her to believe that her doctor had gone missing and the practice was ignoring her.

“I hadn’t seen him in weeks or heard from anyone, so I involved the Virginia Board of Medicine to help obtain my records,” says Hamilton-Thorne. She learned that her physician had an address change. The board also assisted her in a written request for her records.

One of Hamilton-Thorne’s doctors wasn’t missing at all—but instead, had left the practice. Dr. Martin Katz is now with Downtown Family Health Care in Charlottesville.

According to the Code of Virginia, physicians are required to transfer patient records when a practice relocates, is sold or closes.

In an e-mail to Hamilton-Thorne, Revolution says it attempted to notify patients of its move starting in late 2015, and that it changed its phone message, posted signs, sent e-mails and in some cases letters to patients without e-mail.

Hamilton-Thorne notes that she received her first response from Revolution Health Center after contacting C-VILLE, and she found an unsigned e-mail lurking in her junk mail June 22 that offered a brief apology followed by an explanation of Revolution’s attempt to notify patients of its move.

Revolution says it mailed Hamilton-Thorne’s records June 21 after receiving her e-mail request and before C-VILLE contacted the clinic.

Revolution says it did not receive Hamilton-Thorne’s previous e-mails and phone calls. “I do not remember receiving a phone call nor voice message from you in May either,” writes Stacey Forren in an e-mail to Hamilton-Thorne.

“A written medical records request must be received by Revolution Health Center to have a patient’s medical records transferred either to themselves or another physician’s office,” Forren says.

All medical record requests will be processed within 48 hours upon receipt, she says. Revolution Health Center will not e-mail records to patients or other physicians’ offices; however, records can be faxed or mailed via the United States Postal Service. Patients may also pick up their records from the office if they’ve made prior arrangements to do so.

Hamilton-Thorne consulted Revolution’s website, which says the grand opening of the new center is anticipated in mid-2016 and provides details of the location of the temporary clinic.

C-VILLE reached out to Dr. Zachary Bush, one of the senior founding partners at Revolution Health Center. “At this time he is not giving any interviews with the local media as the transition to Charlottesville is not complete,” says an e-mail signed by the Revolution Health Team.

On June 25, Hamilton-Thorne received some of her records and says she’s continuing to lobby for the rest.