SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds of patients with neurological conditions such as seizures, migraines and dementia found out this week that their neurological clinic suddenly shut its doors after more than 40 years in business. Western Neurological Associates, 3900 S. 1151 East, is locked, its phones are disconnected, the power is off and there's a sign on the door saying the business had closed due to "unfortunate circumstances."
"I feel like the patients are left to fend for themselves," said Tara Jorgensen, a seizure patient who had been going to the clinic across from St. Mark's Hospital for a decade.
Jorgensen discovered the clinic was closed when she tried to transfer her records to the University of Utah, where she works as a nurse.
"I need my records just to establish with a neurologist there," she said. "That's when I had trouble getting my records."
Jorgensen left messages, but nobody returned her calls.
"I stopped over there one time, and there was a sign on the door that said they were closed," she said.
Jorgensen does not live far from the clinic, so she decided to go back again.
"They said, 'Oh, the phones are down. There is no power. It's going to be two or three months before you get your records.' And I needed them," she said. "Anyone should have access to their records."
When she went back to Western Neurological Associates this week, Jorgensen said she ran into a doctor and an office worker who helped her get the needed records.
"They said they're just there for the patients, trying to help them get their records," she said.
Jorgensen said she felt lucky to get the records after trying for a month.
"I was super upset," she said, sitting with her husband, Jesse Jorgensen. "I was telling him, 'I don't know what's going on with this place.'"
As a nurse, Tara Jorgensen said she's more concerned about the other patients.
"There are a lot more patients that need much more help than me," she said.
Jesse Jorgensen, a physician assistant, said he's worried about the continuity of patient care.
"They still have those conditions," he said. "They still need those medications. They still need to be closely monitored."Jesse Jorgensen said he was stunned that the business would close its doors and not contact patients in advance to help them transfer their care and records to a new facility."If they're left untreated with seizure disorders, they may end up out of medications, having severe seizures," he said.
On the locked office door, a note reads: "Due to unfortunate circumstances, WNA clinic is closed. We know how disruptive this is and how fast it has occurred. This has been very difficult for us as well."
The note cites two doctors who will relocate to Salt Lake Regional Hospital, and it lists a number to make new appointments. The notice also includes an email address for medical records requests.
A former employee, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said workers and bills were left unpaid as the business unraveled over the past few months. The former worker is considering a lawsuit to recoup wages he said he was not paid.
The owner of the business, who is not a doctor, did not return phone calls or text messages requesting comment.
All the doctors who recently worked at the clinic are still licensed, and patients did not complain about their care.
Nichole Nielson showed up at the clinic this week to get her records and said she was stunned by the abrupt closure. Nielson said she never saw any signs of trouble with the business, and she liked her doctor.
"(There was) no stress at all that I noticed from anybody," she said.
A worker opened the door for Nielson and she filled out an application for her medical records. She had been going to Western Neurological Associates for nearly 30 years to treat migraine headaches. The company website states the business was established in 1971.
"It's very important that you have a doctor that you can go to," Nielson said. "In order for me to do that, I've got to get my records."Comment on this story
Nielson said she fears she will not have insurance authorization for a new prescription when she needs her next Botox shots for her migraine treatment in a couple of weeks.
"If you don't get your Botox right on regimen, then you could get a series of migraines that can be really extremely painful," she said.
Nielson said she understands that businesses fail and patients need to move on, but she was hoping for an easier transition.
"I'll keep coming back in person if I need to (to get the medical records)," Nielson said. "(I'll) keep knocking on the door."