A Pismo Beach neurologist group of four doctors that serves more than 5,300 patients suddenly closed its doors last Friday after nine years of being in business.
Patients of CoastNeuro who have contacted KSBY News for answers said they found out about the office's abrupt closure with a sign on the door or a voicemail when calling the office that said in part "Dr. Filippi is relocating to be closer to family. He will no longer be providing medical services at the office on 2 James Way."
At one point, the recording also advised people not to bang on the doors and the site has 24 hour surveillance. We were told by one of the staff members that employees were also only given a day's notice about the closure and patients we talked with still have yet to be formally contacted by the office about the closure.
Normally, filling the now empty and locked waiting room are stroke and epilepsy patients, people with movement disorders, dementia and neuromuscular disease.
"I look at this, it's a disaster," Steven Andrews said, who has been Dr. Filippi's patient for two years since he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He said since the closure, he has been unable to find a neurologist to take over his care, especially an office that takes MediCare.
"I'm not the only one that can't find a neurologist. There's some people who have phoned and called and tried every avenue to get a neurologist. One of them I know pretty closely who just told me this morning he's given up," Andrews said, adding that he knows many people in the local Parkinson's community who all feel left in the dark. "The anxiety that this causes within me and the stress for Parkinson's is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a person with this situation."
Andrews' neighbor, John Walton, is also struggling to find a replacement doctor for his 68-year-old wife who has Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and has been receiving treatment at CoastNeuro since 2012.
"I've tried to down play it because it affects my wife. When she heard this I could see she was physically affected," Walton said. "It's frightening to lose a specialist in your area and not have one to replace them."
Both men have a hard time accepting that Dr. Filippi's decision to be closer to family is the reason for the abrupt closure.
KSBY News has learned there is more to it.
In a written statement from the group, the four doctors claim their office manager quit with only three days notice and without an adequate replacement, it was not possible to continue operating. The other doctors - Peter Masny, David Hardesty and Rajan Patel - are reportedly scrambling to open their own clinic.
After several phone calls, email correspondence and statements between the doctors and KSBY News in the last week, it was announced Tuesday morning that a temporary clinic will open January 6, 2020 under Dignity Health's Pacific Central Coast Health Centers network. A spokesperson for Dignity Health said when they became aware of the situation, they reached out to find a solution and agreed to take on the practice.
It will be housed in the Arroyo Grande Specialty Center in the Matthew Will Memorial Medical Center building behind Arroyo Grande Community Hospital until a permanent location can be found.
A letter will reportedly be going out to all patients notifying them of the new location.