Former Spectrum Health Care Clinic employee said sudden closure built over months
COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Former employees of a Columbia healthcare clinic await answers after a sudden closure– and final paychecks.
Spectrum Health Care Clinic closed its doors Wednesday without notice. The clinic, formerly at 1123 Wilkes Boulevard in Columbia, has a piece of paper plastered on the front door. “Closed until further notice,” citing financial hardships for the closure.
Spectrum Board Chairmen Echo Menges said the decision was made Tuesday night. But employees didn’t know until the following day, after receiving emails telling them they no longer had a position with the clinic. A letter received by Trey Busch, a former employee and patient of the clinic, had the wrong name inserted into parts.
In the email Busch shared, Spectrum said Busch would be laid off, as of Feb. 15.
"The clinic’s lack of funds necessitates this layoff," the email said. "This layoff action is indefinite and should be considered permanent."
“Not even a phone call,” former Spectrum employee Leigh Ann Gresham said. “There was no warning, no communication, no heads up. No, ‘hey, you might wanna look for another job…’ Nothing.”
The volunteer-run organization offered medical assistance for HIV and AIDS patients, as well as providing STI testing and birth control.
"It's disturbing," Busch said. "That's the part that's the most stressful. I am a patient there, and I have HIV so I rely on them for my care and my chronic care. That I need to keep me alive daily."
While Wednesday’s news hit without warning, there was a domino effect happening inside the clinic for months. Gresham worked for the clinic over the past six months.
Rapid changes started after Cale Mitchell, the former Executive Director of Spectrum Health Care stepped away in 2022, Gresham said. Before Mitchell left to pursue a different job, the clinic saw different staff members leave over the span of a year.
“So there were less patients being seen, so that was bringing in less money,” Gresham said. “There were less programs being utilized, so that's bringing in less money… it kind of all just, you know, works together.”
Some employees, including Gresham, were aware of the financial struggles building. But at the same time, they assumed the clinic was looking to replace grant writers and the director.
“But we didn't expect them to close,” Gresham said. “And especially didn't expect them to close that quickly.”
Menges said the clinic plans to notify patients by the end of the weekend.
"I anticipate that communication will also be available via our social media accounts and on our website, hopefully by Monday," Menges said in a statement. "I don't see a path where reopening is an option at this point. The board needs time to reevaluate its position, refocus on our mission, and lay out a path to best serve the community."