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Cornelius News

Holston Medical terminates employees; shutters some offices

April 10. By Dave Yochum. Holston Medical Group’s entry into the Lake Norman market a year ago has turned into a healthcare crisis for patients, doctors and medical staff.

At 5 pm Good Friday Holston told employees the Tennessee-based medical practice  had “made the difficult decision to close many of its offices in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina.”

This is not normally how it’s done in healthcare, let alone in the midst of a historic pandemic.

Holston cited two reasons: The departure of a majority of HMG’s physician providers and “circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.” The message terminating staff was delivered by email: “As a result, your position has been eliminated.”

Thousands of patients are in the lurch. It’s unclear at the moment if they have been notified.

HMG confirmed that 35 physicians had already resigned.

They were apparently part of plans to launch a new medical group, outside of HMG in September of 2020.

HMG opted to terminate 21 of them this past week, throwing the offices and their patients into disarray. It’s unknown how many more are gone.

Relationship failed

The saga of Holston Medical Group in Lake Norman began on a positive note in January a year ago.

More than three dozen physicians decided to leave Novant Health to join a private practice with a “patient-first philosophy” they believed similar to their own. It was Holston Medical Group.

The departing physicians were led by one of the most well-known doctors in the region, Lakeside Family Physicians’ Dr. David Cook, and Dr. Ehab Sharawy.

Cook could not be reached for comment. Another Holston physician, Laura Schrader, would not comment.

Huntersville OB/GYN doctors also joined the wave of departures from Novant which was scheduled for May of last year. In a sign of the competitiveness in the world of healthcare, Novant required they leave in March, hastening their departure by two months.

Of course, Novant was left in the lurch, but the departing group minimized disruption to patient care during the transition to Holston.

They were working at Novant one week, Holston the next.

But the relationship between the former Novant doctors and Holston went bad in less than a year.

Corporate records show that Cook and Sharawy in December 2019 formed OH Leadership, located in an office building in Statesville.

The physicians were scheduled to transition out of Holston in September into a new practice.

Whether Cook and Sharawy will ramp up the new practice sooner than later is not known.

Patients in shock

Patients were shocked and dismayed by Holston’s disappearing act, although it’s possible they could provide “telehealth” going forward.

A source said “it’s wrong what they’re doing,” referring to Holston’s actions. The source said the HMG doctors are under contract until September. “They have not released them.” It’s unclear what the status of medical records is.

That it happened at the beginning of a holiday weekend is stunning in the world of healthcare and patient relations. In the midst of a pandemic is “inexcusable” one staff member said.

It’s unclear at this point where patients will go.

Holston referred media inquiries to a Roswell, Ga. public relations firm. They did not respond to questions Good Friday evening.