November 27, 2022
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‘Where will we go?’: Au Gres residents upset over closure of health clinic | Health

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They worry they will have to travel miles away to receive quality healthcare



AU GRES, Mich. (WJRT) – A number of residents in Au Gres are upset with McLaren’s decision to close a clinic.

The clinic has been in Au Gres for eight years, but McLaren Health Care says it’s closing it on Halloween. Patients haven’t officially received word from McLaren that the facility is closing. McLaren says they will get letters out soon.

Patients love the woman known as Doctor Becky, who they say is from the Au Gres area. They are not exactly sure where they will get their health care now.

“Abandoned. Where do I go now?” asked Carol Tata.

A chill is in the air didn’t stop a few dozen people from coming out to show their displeasure with McLaren Health Care’s decision to close the Bay Region-Au Gres Family Medicine clinic at the end of the month.

“It is going to be devastating to Au Gres that they take her out of here,” Dave Pottinger said.

Dr. Rebecca Britt-Dewyer is popular in the area and many of her patients refer to her as Doctor Becky.

“We’ve known Becky since the day she was born and she did everything to come back to this community. That was her goal,” said Teresa Spies, who owns the Au Gres Pharmacy.

With the clinic closing, it’s not clear where Britt-Dewyer will be practicing medicine next. In fact, her patients have a lot of questions.

“What do we do about prescriptions?” asked Sandy Pottinger.

“You have a lot of seniors here. Where are they going to go? It’s wintertime,” said Jeannie Reeve.

McLaren Health Care released this statement about the closure.

“The ongoing, industry-wide staffing challenges have led the McLaren Medical Group to consolidate three McLaren Bay Region primary care practices into two and shift providers and support staff in the area to best match resources and continue to provide its level of high-quality care to the communities we serve.

Unfortunately, this will result in the closure of McLaren Bay Region – Au Gres Family Medicine on October 31. Patients will be provided written notification, which includes referral information to two clinics in the region (located in Tawas and Standish) ready to serve them and maintain the continuity of their care.

Until that time, the clinic will maintain its hours of operation. We understand this operational change may come as an inconvenience to some of our patients, and we empathize with them yet remain committed to providing all patients with quality and compassionate care.”

McLaren says it will soon notify patients about their clinics in Tawas and Standish.   

“Either go to West Branch or going to end up going to Standish and that’s a lot of traveling all the time,” said Jim Erickson.

Au Gres City Manager Dale Wiltse said other health care providers have reached out about possibly opening in the community, but he pointed out that no other clinic space is available.

“This is very important to rural communities to have a clinic like this,” he said.

It’s not clear what will happen with the building once this clinic closes. Tata is not sure what doctor she will go to next.

“We don’t want to lose her. I don’t want to give her up, I don’t. I am sorry, I am an emotional person. I might start to cry,” she says.

Britt-Dewyer could not be reached for comment Friday. Ascension Michigan has a clinic in Au Gres and they are accepting new patients there.



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