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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP / East County | Thousand Oaks

New Era Dawns for Health Clinic

September 21, 2000|MARGARET TALEV

When a doctors' office goes through four owners in three years, it can be trying on patients and on business.

That's why the eight doctors at what is now called Arroyo Oaks Medical Associates rolled out the red carpet Wednesday for a "grand reopening" party. They invited city officials, area hospital executives and patients to see the physician-owned clinic.

The practice was formed 35 years ago as the physician-owned Lombard Medical Group. It was sold in recent years to Aetna Insurance, and later to MedPartners, then to Allied Health.

Ronald E. de la Pena, a gynecologist with the group, said the succession of managed-care owners, each with different rules and plans, made it hard to run a business. Longtime patients who got cut out of service plans or had trouble getting through to their doctors because of changing policies were also frustrated, De la Pena said.

"We had a big turnover of patients," he said. "They were getting put through the wringer."

After mounting frustrations between doctors and the most recent owner, the insurer decided not to renew the clinic's lease at the end of 1999. Doctors decided to rebuild the practice on their own, De la Pena said.

The clinic will not accept HMO patients but will take other forms of medical insurance, he said.

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