Countdown on for group of doctors leaving Atrium Health

Countdown is on for group of doctors leaving Atrium Health

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Atrium Health has officially told a group of doctors with Mecklenburg Medical Group who sued and asked to leave that their last day is set for Aug. 31 -- just four months away.

The clock is now ticking for those 90 doctors to reveal their new plan and locations.

Atrium sent thousands of patients an email this week informing those impacted. The health giant also opened a phone hotline to answer questions and concerns about the massive doctor transition.

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Channel 9 spoke with several patients outside a Mecklenburg Medical Group office on Thursday. They all indicated a high level of satisfaction with their doctors, but were anxious for clarity as to where their physician will be practicing in the future.

Dr. Scott Rissmiller, with Atrium Health, said there is ample information available for patients about what’s happening.

“Call and we’ll walk you through this. There’s a team ready to talk with you,” Rissmiller said.

Channel 9 dug through online records and counted at least 29 doctors who are expected to stay with Mecklenburg Medical Group.

Two of the doctors who originally sued to leave have since decided to stay instead. Atrium is hoping other doctors have a change of heart as well.

“I know these physicians,” said Rissmiller. “Many of them are friends who I trained with. These are good people, and what we hope is that they stay with us and help us continue our journey.”

Atrium Health officials also said it is actively hiring new doctors to replace those who decided to leave.

No matter how smooth the transition, the impact on health consumers will still be widespread. There are 10 Mecklenburg Medical Group locations throughout Charlotte, and sources told Channel 9 that upward of 100,000 total patients will be impacted.

A spokesperson for the doctors leaving Atrium declined to speak to Channel 9 on camera, but said the attorneys are now finalizing details.

You can contact Atrium Health with any questions about your physician at 1-800-821-1535 or 704-863-8299.

Atrium Health Statement concerning Mecklenburg Medical Group:

"Atrium Health is granting the request of some of the doctors within our Mecklenburg Medical Group (MMG) to form a standalone practice and releasing them from their non-compete provisions. In order to do so, we are ending their current employment agreements effective September 1. Consistent with our previous statements, we are also offering them new employment agreements in the hopes they remain at Atrium Health and their MMG practice. Our wish is that all of these physicians will stay with Atrium Health and join the other 1,900 doctors who provide care for our patients.

"While we were hopeful that our many months of discussions would lead to an acceptable solution for everyone involved, we will not seek to prevent these physicians from forming a standalone practice. To ensure continuity of care for our patients, these physicians will continue practicing at our MMG offices until August 31.

"Atrium Health has served the Charlotte region for more than 80 years and our top priority has always been our patients. Not all physicians at MMG have requested to leave, and MMG is not leaving Atrium Health. We have more than 3,000 providers dedicated to our patients, and we are committed to caring for all of the patients in each of our MMG practices. We have always respected patients’ right to choose their doctor and will find new Atrium Health physicians for those patients who choose to continue their care with us. For those who decide to continue their care with a physician who leaves Atrium Health, we will support their transition and help to make sure it is seamless and coordinated. All patients will continue to have access to our world-class specialists, facilities and programs such as Carolinas Medical Center, Levine Cancer Institute, Levine Children’s Hospital and Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, among many others."

The following is a statement from Mecklenburg Multispecialty Group in response to Thursday’s press release from Atrium Health:

“We are pleased that today Atrium Health appears to have granted the request by Mecklenburg Multispecialty Group’s 90 doctors to operate independently of Atrium Health and release the doctors from the non-compete provisions of their contracts.

“Our attorneys will be reviewing the details of today’s announcement with Atrium Health and their attorneys in the coming days to determine our next steps - and specifically how this effects Mecklenburg Multispecialty Group’s pending litigation with Atrium Health.

“We hope to work together with Atrium Health to make this transition as smooth as possible and avoid any inconvenience to patients and staff.”

Note: The number of doctors with Mecklenburg Multispecialty Group has changed from 92 to 90 in recent weeks since two additional doctors have decided to stay with Atrium Health.