Neighborhood Health Care patients scramble to find new services

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Financial problems have forced a chain of clinics to close their doors for good. Neighborhood Health Care patients will now have to scramble to find health care somewhere else.

There's a letter to patients taped inside the door at the Neighborhood Health Center in Norwood, explaining that they'll have to find their health care services elsewhere.

The letter is the only notice many patients received.

Lorren Ratley of Anderson Township learned of the closure only days ago. She's been coming to Neighborhood Health care for years with her family.

"My husband and the kids - because he doesn't make anything. So because premiums for his coverage at work are expensive, he was coming here and paying, you know. It's not free," explains Ratley.

Gary Phillips says he's had a hard tome getting information about the closure.

"I've tried eight or twelve times and let it ring 30 to 40 times," says Phillips. "No one has picked up the phone."

Plans to merge the Neighborhood Health Care with the Kentucky-based HealthPoint drew strong opposition from the Cincinnati Health Department and other health car providers.

"All of these providers raised questions about HealthPoint's ability to provide services," explains Rocky Merz of the Cincinnati Health Department. "Do they have the capacity to do what they say they're going to do? Can they operate in an urban environment?"

NCH board member Clarence Taylor says it's more about turf.

"There would not have been a whole lot of change," says Taylor. "This happens to be a political deal. It happens to be 'we want our money over here, it stays with us, we're not giving it to anybody else.'"

Taylor adds that it is the patients that will suffer

"If you can't financially or help us in any kind of way, then don't hinder us from someone that can help us," says Taylor.

The Health Resources Services Administration says other companies are invited to bid for the grant money Neighborhood Health Care was trying to get. That bidding process will start in the next few weeks.

The Cincinnati Health Department and other area health agencies are now trying to find other places for neighborhood health patients to go instead of emergency rooms.

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