After months of swirling rumors about the future of Allina Health’s residency program erstwhile housed at the United Family Medicine (UFM) clinic, Allina announced its plans: a new community-based primary care practice called the United Family Physicians Clinic, set to open in January at 233 Grand Avenue, the same block as United Hospital—the residency program’s primary teaching site—and Children’s.
The clinic will train 21 residents per year in family medicine, a specialty that research in the Annals of Family Medicine suggests will see a projected shortfall of doctors that will grow to 33,000 in the U.S. by 2035. “With the opening of this new clinic, we are deepening our commitment to serve the health care needs of the community,” senior vice president of Allina Health Operations and president of United Hospital Sara Criger described in a press release. She said the new site would provide a home for “Allina Health’s well-respected family medicine residency program that is training the next generation of committed and compassionate caregivers.”
Dr. Stephanie Rosener, director of Allina Health’s United Family Medicine Residency Program at the new clinic, noted that, given its employees’ tenure at UFM for years, the program’s physicians are “deeply connected to the West 7th neighborhood.” (Allina Health’s family medicine residency program has been operating at the UFM clinic since 1995.) “While the opening of the new clinic marks the end of a long and meaningful partnership between UFM and the residency program,” Allina’s press release said, “Allina Health looks forward to collectively working to serve the West 7th community that both organizations cherish.”
“We may have a new address,” Rosener said, “but we are the same people, with the same mission, same vision and same heart.”
While the exact day of the clinic’s opening remains uncertain, information will become available at allinahealth.org/ufpclinic, and appointments may also be scheduled at 651-241-5200 once its phone lines are active.
Dr. Tim Rumsey, who has served as a faculty physician in Allina Health’s residency program for decades while it has been located at UFM, described the experience of leaving the site of the program’s founding as “surreal.” But he added, “We’re very excited about the new location and glad to move ahead and continue to serve and teach.” One of the upsides of the new location, he said, is the proximity to United Hospital, where the residency program will continue its inpatient service. “Caring for the underprovided requires 24-hour care,” Rumsey said. “We’re delivering babies at six in the morning, for instance. Hospital service helps facilitate that kind of continuity.”
Rumsey also noted other advantages of the new location, such as being near marginalized people whom the program can serve, from residents of the Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground homeless shelter to those who had until December sought treatment at St. Joe’s, a nearby Fairview Health hospital that closed last month and was converted to a community wellness center.
But Rumsey did not paper over the challenges of moving a program that had grown over its 25 years in its size and ambitions. “We’re working with Allina to redevelop a sliding scale,” he said, referring to the flexible payment model in place at UFM. He noted that the new clinic would accept all insurance that Allina takes as well as Medical Assistance and Medicare.
The new program will also have several roles for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to fill. Of his former colleagues, many of whom were advanced practitioners, Rumsey said, “I miss all of them—the nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers and psychologists whom we were able to work beside as partners at UFM.”
After being furloughed in March, Rumsey decided over the summer to retire from seeing patients, though he plans to remain involved in teaching at the program. He said he would miss his patients as well.
Patients of the UFM clinic received calls in recent weeks following up on its October letter announcing the departure of Allina Health’s doctors and asking them to select a new primary care provider at UFM. A copy of the callers’ script obtained by the Community Reporter instructed them to inform patients of “a number of new providers starting in the coming months.”
Editor’s note: Jonathan Dickman, chair of the Community Reporter‘s board of directors, is a faculty physician at the United Family Medicine Residency Program. Resident physicians in the program are the rotating authors of the Community Reporter‘s Healthline column.