The Marin County supervisors have voted to close county dental and specialty health clinics this fall and transfer care of patients to Marin Community Clinics. As a result, some county employee jobs will be lost and other workers will be reassigned.
Officials said the dental and infectious disease specialty clinics will close Nov. 3 but also stressed there will be no loss of service. Marin Community Clinics, a federally qualified health center, will provide equivalent services at the same locations as the county-operated clinics that will close.
Additionally, clinics in San Rafael will not close until transition criteria have been met. The county’s health clinics are in the Marin Health and Wellness Campus at 3260 Kerner Blvd. The dental clinic is at 411 Fourth St. MCC plans to open its clinics upon the closure of the county clinics.
The announcement said that MCC is the largest safety-net health provider in the county and sees more than 80 percent of Marin’s MediCal patients. At the MCC offices, a patient can receive preventive care and treatment by a dedicated primary care physician while having access to specialty and dental services as needed. That is not possible with the specialized county health clinics.
“Today, we have an unprecedented opportunity to build an integrated, sustainable system of care in Marin County that ensures quality, increases access, and improves health outcomes,” said Lisa Santora, Marin County Health and Human Services deputy public health officer.
While public use of county of Marin’s specialty clinics has declined in recent years, officials said that MCC has served more than 175,000 visitors annually at its nine clinics across Marin.
Santora reported that the board decision will result in a reduction in the county workforce. Fourteen employees will be reassigned to other positions to meet program needs in other HHS units. The county is in negotiations with the union to agree on separation and severance agreements for approximately 19 employees.
County officials stated financial factors were weighed in the board’s decision as well. Federally qualified health centers such as MCC receive substantially higher reimbursement rates than the county’s clinics.
For every patient visit, MCC receives about three times the reimbursement rate that the county receives. In fact, county-run clinics require a subsidy of more than $100 per visit. The county is facing a $7.4 million budget deficit over the next two years, and the transfer of the clinic clientele would result in an ongoing administrative savings of about $2 million annually.