Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Lyon-Martin still needs another half million to stay open, officials announce

Lyon-Martin Health Services needs to raise another $500,000 by March 31 to keep from shutting down, the San Francisco-based clinic announced today (Monday, February 28).

News emerged last month that Lyon-Martin, which provides services to transgender people and women regardless of their ability to pay, is more than $500,000 in debt.

Since the clinic’s board announced in late January that it would close in days, even though board members had made no plans for where patients would go, community members have raised more than $300,000 to keep the clinic open.

But that’s still not enough.

“We are committed to keeping the clinic open, but only if it can be done sustainably,” board Chair Lauren Winter said in an e-mail blast. “Lyon-Martin cannot remain forever dependent on the type of generous outpouring of financial support the clinic has received from the community over the past month.”

In the clinic’s e-mail, Winter said the information on how much more is needed came from a recently completed external financial assessment.

The message also served as an announcement of the resignation of Finance Director Debbie Pappas, effective March 4.

Lyon-Martin’s e-mail comes as the clinic and its supporters plan to go to a Board of Supervisors budget and finance committee hearing Wednesday, March 2, to ask for city money. Some supervisors have expressed a desire to see changes on Lyon-Martin’s board, considering their apparent lack of financial management skills, among other concerns.

Treasurer Peter Balon stated, “With significant changes in the way the clinic is structured and managed, there is a point in 2012 where Lyon-Martin should be in a position to generate sufficient income to cover its expenses and pay down debt. An immediate infusion of cash, however, is needed if the clinic is to maintain operations long enough to reach that point.”

The e-mail said that “a substantial portion” of the funds raised so far were needed to pay for salaries and support “normal operations” for January and February. The money’s also allowed the clinic to hire several consultants “in hopes of turning the clinic around and stabilizing its finances,” the message said.

Lyon-Martin has also “retained experts in health center regulation and administration, and it is expected that consultants serving as turnaround Executive Director, Director of Finance, and accounting staff will be in place by the first week of March,” the e-mail said.

Dr. Dawn Harbatkin, Lyon-Martin’s medical director, has also been serving as interim executive director since previous ED Teri McGinnis resigned in November, without full public explanation.

The clinic’s message today said that Harbatkin’s “thrilled to be handing over the reins.”

Harbatkin stated, “What the clinic needs most right now is a turnaround Executive Director who can work full time on running the business of Lyon-Martin. I am excited to get back to focusing on the medical care being provided to the clinic’s patients. Things are definitely moving in the right direction.”

With that said, however, “several potential obstacles to Lyon-Martin’s survival” remain, the clinic announced.

If the clinic doesn’t get another half million dollars by the end of March, “the process of winding down the clinic must begin, if a responsible closure is to take place before the clinic runs out of money altogether. Lyon-Martin is hopeful that these funds can be raised through a combination of public and private funding sources.”

Finally, the clinic must significantly improve its performance on collecting funds from self-pay patients. “We have not historically been disciplined” when it comes to collecting funds from self-pay patients, “but that is going to have to change,” said Harbatkin.

Patients not covered under Medi-Care, Medi-Cal, or another government-funded health care program or private insurance will be asked to pay for their visits at the time of treatment, and follow-up invoices will be sent to those who cannot do so, the clinic said.

Harbatkin stated, “the clinic is committed to providing needed care regardless of ability to pay, but it is not — and cannot be run as — a free clinic.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 28, 2011 @ 5:22 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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