By Jane McClure

United Family Medicine, which has provided health care in the West End neighborhood since 1971, is now embroiled in a controversy over patient care and staffing. The clinic’s longtime residency program with Allina Health is coming to an end, as Allina prepares to open its own clinic in the West End by the end of the year.

That change and others at United Family Medicine (UFM) have sparked a petition drive and protests from West End leaders, including several former clinic board members. The petition and details can be found on the Save United Family Medicine Facebook page.

“On behalf of our community and as neighbors or patients of the clinic ourselves, we declare ‘no confidence’ in the current leadership of the UFM clinic,” the petition stated. The petitioners are asking that the current clinic CEO and other leaders be removed, and that the residency program and doctors be brought back.

UFM, which served more than 15,000 patients in 2019, operates its main clinic on West Seventh Street and Randolph Avenue. It is an independent nonprofit that contracts with Allina for several services, including doctors.

“On behalf of our community and as neighbors or patients of the clinic ourselves, we declare ‘no confidence’ in the current leadership of the UFM clinic,” the petition stated.

West End residents say the end of the Allina partnership will reduce staffing at the clinic from the 13 current doctors and 21 family medicine residents to between three to five staff physicians. They contend that programs at the center of the clinic’s work, including maternity, geriatrics, mental health and substance abuse, will be adversely affected.


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The petitioners also accuse the clinic of making the changes during the COVID-19 pandemic when all physicians were furloughed. Lack of time for exams and other patient care were also raised, along with physicians being unable to access their email accounts and finding their offices packed up when they returned over the summer.

Ann Nyakundi, CEO of UFM, said the clinic had no choice but to make changes. A 2018 federal audit found that UFM was out of compliance with federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) regulations. That in turn affected clinic funding.

“If we lose HRSA, we lose funding for care of people who are uninsured,” Nyakundi said. Another HRSA audit is to be conducted this fall.

Nyakundi said she and other clinic leaders were surprised by Allina’s decision and that they would like to have kept the residency program going. However, she contends that by hiring its own staff, the clinic will be able to provide better care and still be in compliance with HRSA. One disadvantage she cited with the residency program is that patients sometimes had long waits to see their doctors.

“Making people wait several days to see their doctors isn’t acceptable,” she said.

Allina Health noted that the residency program has successfully trained 150 physicians over the years, with 21 currently in residency with the program. Allina cited the ongoing need to train family medicine physicians and stated it is proud of its long partnership with the clinic.

“However, we have made the decision to relocate the residency program so that it can continue to fulfill its teaching mission and meet all its accreditation requirements,” Allina said in a statement.

Allina said it will work with UFM on the transition to a new clinic in the West Seventh neighborhood.


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