Physician groups, outpatient specialty centers under pressure: 31 closed this year

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The financial strain of COVID-19 and dwindling interest in private practice from physicians in the early stages of their careers have prompted the closings of 31 physician groups and outpatient specialty centers this year.

Here's why some of those practice and clinic locations shut down:

1. Heights Hospital in Houston, which mostly had been providing outpatient and specialty care, closed in January after its management company failed to pay rent. The physicians said they weren't notified of the closure and treated patients in the parking lot.

2. Gilford, N.H.-based Advanced Orthopaedic Specialists announced plans to close in March after Laconia, N.H.-based Lakes Region General Hospital decided not to renew its service agreement. The practice joined Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.H., in June.

3. Northern California Medical Associates shuttered May 1, laying off 26 physicians and 151 employees. The group blamed natural disasters and financial strain for the closure.

4. Lags Medical Centers, a pain management clinic chain, closed 23 California locations in May without warning. Patients were provided one month's supply of pain medications and instructed to find care elsewhere. Lags also has locations in Nevada, Florida and Delaware.

5. Four independent physician practices in Shelburne, Vt., closed in May. Two of the primary care physicians retired, and two others became salaried employees of larger organizations. Jessa Barnard, executive director of the Vermont Medical Society, said the closures illustrate the challenges physicians face in running independent practices.

6. Family Practice of Kennebunks in Kennebunk, Maine, closed June 30. The practice was unable to find a buyer to own and manage operations after its two physicians decided to retire earlier this year.

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