Patients face delays, bureaucratic headaches after marijuana clinics close
Thousands of patients in Tampa Bay area are facing a dilemma after half-dozen of Marijuana clinics faced close-down by the authorities. They may have to find another marijuana physician for their treatment which is not an easy proposition considering state restrictions.
Tetra Health Care, that is based in California and hires licensed doctors that can prescribe recommendations at six clinics in Florida, faced the closure, all but one. According to the company’s spokesperson, that one clinic is working with state lawmakers to facilitate the patients and get them easy access to the facility. Having all said, a former doctor working with Tetra Health Care alleges that due to financial crisis, the facility discontinued payments to the doctors and staff in October.
The industry insiders are of the view that this downsizing of Tetra is an obvious pointer towards the problems physicians and marijuana related businesses are facing right now as Florida enters its second year of legalizing of medical marijuana. Another doctor working with Tetra also alleges that she left it after salaries stopped coming in. She furthers her grievances by stating that even though she left the center, Tetra Health Care continued to use passwords of departed physicians to access the state registry to track the patients that were assigned to them.
Tetra had five clinics in Tampa Bay area with two in Tampa and one each in St. Petersburg and Clearwater and Brandon with sixth one in Orlando. Due to current close-down of most of its clinics, Tetra are directing its patients to the one center in Tampa, at 2814 W Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., for appointments and recommendations. “The roadblocks from the state and delays in patient access have resulted in higher operational costs than originally projected for the industry state-wide, including for Tetra Health Care. Tetra expects to make full restitution shortly,” came as official response from Tetra.
According to Tetra, they have merged various locations of their center at their M.L.K facility that is their largest facility and can treat more patients per day. Moreover, they have explained the situation to their patients and gave them the choice either to register with the doctor on file, or transfer to a new Tetra physician. Tetra claims that they have been able to retain most of their patients.
As Tetra puts it, closure of many clinics is direct result of recent changes to qualifying conditions as well as delays in issuing of medical marijuana cards to patients. Most in industry are not buying the explanation, though. According to Alex Adams, president of Compassionate Care Clinics, patients are getting medical marijuana cards within 30 days, sometimes even earlier.
All said, this still is a source for major headache for the patients whose medical treatment came to a halt due to closure of Tetra.
- They have to pay all over again once they change their physician.
- Even if they are ready to pay the hefty amount, they cannot see two doctors at the same time. For that, they have to be manually deactivated by their current physician and sometimes that become hard to do.
As Adams puts it, his office tried to assist the patients to start over again but the whole process can be tedious and difficult. Statistically speaking, 64,000 Floridians have applied through Department of Health to receive Medical marijuana as a medium of treatment while 883 physicians have attended the state sanctioned course.
Adam is, however, hopeful of getting things straightened out by next year and more clinics being opened to accommodate ever growing demand for medical marijuana based treatment .