For the second time in two weeks, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday postponed a vote on whether to close the county's Scottsdale clinic. But some staff members at Scottsdale Family Clinic already are scheduled to be transferred.
County officials said the clinic at 6535 E. Osborn Road could be the first of many closings for the county's financially hemorrhaging health care system for the poor, Maricopa Integrated Health System.
One of the clinic's two doctors is scheduled to be transferred March 3 to the county's Chandler Clinic, while nurses and the second doctor will be on hand to care for the clinic's 1,700 people until a final decision is made.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Fulton Brock, R-District 1 of Chandler, said the board has the power to order the clinic closed without a vote, but hoped to rally citizen and media support by bringing the decision to the public forum. The next vote is scheduled for March 5.
"We could have given (Maricopa Integrated Health System CEO) Mark Hillard a mandate to close the clinics," Brock said. "But part of the process is to bring awareness in the community . . . Any decision is reversible."
The clinic lost $165,000 last year and costs $650,000 annually to run.
Brock said the system could be saved if the public votes for a tax district and supports the building of a medical school in the county.
"I hope people become better informed so we can get a taxing district," he said.
Scottsdale Vice Mayor David Ortega and Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross testified before the board Wednesday, offering to have the city pay the clinic's utility and janitorial bills, which total $7,000 annually.
Ortega had hoped the city could do more, but the decision to close the clinic already was in the works, he said.
"These people are already set to be transferred," he said.
Ortega said he hopes the city will agree to pay transportation costs for patients who opt to seek care at one of the county's remaining clinics, including those in Guadalupe, Mesa and Chandler.
"The best we can do is offer the hard-to-serve transportation vouchers so they can go where services are provided," Ortega said.