Sudden shuttering of local clinic leaves patients looking for answers
By Trudy Balcom
RAWLINS — The phone at the office of the Rawlins Chamber of Commerce was ringing steadily on Tuesday morning as patients of Rawlins Family Medical Clinic/Rawlins Urgent Care tried to get information — any information about how to contact the clinic.
According to Chamber Board President Missey Turney, Jessie Powell, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, has put together a list of medical practitioners and facilities in Rawlins that former patients of Rawlins Family Medical may contact in order to get the care they need.
On Wednesday, again, there was no answer at the clinic phone. The Daily Times left a message at the phone number posted on the clinic’s Facebook page notifying patients of its closure.
There was no answer at the home telephone number listed for Wayne Couch II, MD, in the local telephone directory. Dr. Couch is the practitioner who operates Rawlins Family Medical Clinic/Rawlins Urgent Care.
Kevin Bohnenblust, executive director of the Wyoming Board of Medicine, said that while it is not strictly illegal for a medical practice to suddenly shut their doors, he said there are recommended “guidelines for how practices be shut down.”
The Wyoming Board of Medicine handles licensure and disciplinary matters for physicians and physician assistants in Wyoming.
Recommended actions prior to closure of clinic include sending a letters out to all patients notifying them of the closure date and placing ads in large circulation newspapers notifying the public of the closure, as well as posters at the clinic or practice notifying patients of a closure well in advance, Bohnenblust said.
The purpose of advance notification is to allow patients time to make arrangements to get their care somewhere else.
Bohnenblust said that he had no personal knowledge of the situation with Rawlins Family Medical/Rawlins Urgent Care, but that failure to notify patients of closure — abandonment of patients — could possibly be considered a breach of the general standard of care.
The Board of Medicine, he said, has the authority to take disciplinary action, such as sanctions or reprimand of physicians all the way up to fines and revocation of their license.
According to the website of the Board of Medicine, a man by the name of Marvin W. Couch II, is licensed to practice medicine in the State of Wyoming through June 30, 2017.
The address listed on his license is 606 23rd St., Rawlins. The address of Rawlins Family Medical/Rawlins Urgent Care is 606 23rd St., Rawlins.
A search of the disciplinary records of the Board of Medicine revealed that Dr. Couch has been cited by the Board previously.
Couch entered into “a five-year consent decree requiring a Board-approved boundaries course and annual meetings with Petitioners. Order terminating probation issued on October 24, 2009,” the online record states.
No further information concerning what the consent-decree or the “boundaries course” pertained to was available on the website.
Former patients of Rawlins Family Medical/Rawlins Urgent Care may file a formal complaint with the Board of Medicine concerning the closure of the clinic or any other issue if they choose, Bohnenblust said.
Formal complaints must be written and sent via U.S. Mail in order to be considered for disciplinary action.
According to the website, “Board rules require a written complaint naming the physician and/or PA involved, the patient and a detailed narrative describing what happened and when. The complaint must be signed and include the complainant's address and telephone number.”
The board does not accept emailed complaints, anonymous complaints and generally does not intervene in fee disputes.
The public may call the Board to discuss a potential complaint by calling 1-800-438-5784.