ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A bankrupt New Mexico health care company that’s embattled in a fraud investigation is now facing a growing number of claims from customers over missing medical records.
The problem has left some customers scrambling to get basic medical care and many clueless about if anyone can or will help them get records that are vital to their health.
Atrinea Health is at the center of the records snafu. For years, the urgent care and family practice company saw hundreds of patients at various clinics in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Los Lunas and Ruidoso.
In April 2016, a KRQE News 13 Larry Barker investigation exposed financial problems inside Atrinea Health, including accusations that the company took employee benefit money and retirement funds, and spent it elsewhere. In 2015, Atrinea Health filed chapter 11 bankruptcy. In March 2016, a federal court ordered the company to close its clinics and liquidate its assets.
For some customers, Atrinea Health’s closure is still a surprise.
“Wasn’t there a doctor’s office here?” asked a former Atrinea Health patient who KRQE News 13 captured walking into an old Los Lunas clinic in late May. “Do you know what happened to them?”
Some customers tell KRQE News 13 that they were never notified of the clinic’s sudden closure.
“Everything was just like shut down,” said Joseph Jaramillo of Meadowlake, a former Atrinea Health patient.
Jaramillo says while the closure is upsetting, he and other patients are angered over their missing medical records.
“You never think that this would happen,” said Jaramillo. “It’s despicable.”
Karen Garner-Cordova of Los Lunas is another patient who’s been unable to access her records from Atrinea Health. She too says she never heard the clinic was closing until she went to get blood work.
“I don’t know what they did with everyone’s records,” said Garner-Cordova. “It has taken a lot of my time.”
Garner-Cordova says the missing medical records have forced her family to repeat appointments, and re-do tests that they recently completed. She claims the clinic should have documentation of those tests in its records. Garner-Cordova’s husband is a long-haul truck driver, who’s on the road and needs a steady supply of blood pressure medication.
“Usually you can just call your doctor and say, ‘I need this,’ and get it (prescriptions) but now he has to come in,” said Garner-Cordova, speaking of her husband. “He’s (now) going to have to come all the way home… and we’re going to have to start all over, get all of his new prescriptions, where as we were supposed to have refills.”
The new appointments also come at an extra cost for Garner-Cordova’s family. So far, it’s cost more than $150 out-of-pocket, and that number is expected to grow. She says that’s money her family could have kept if they had access to their medical records from Atrinea Health.
A phone call can’t solve the problem either. While the company still has an active phone number, there’s nobody answering the other end of the line. Atrinea Health’s main number routes to an automated phone recording, where virtually every option routes to the same message:
“Effective March 18, 2016, the clinic will officially close. We advise you to call your insurance provider to help you find a new primary care physician. Their phone number is listed on the back of your insurance card. If you’d still like to speak with someone, please leave a message with your name, date of birth, and a number you can be reached at and we will return your call within 24 hours.”–Voicemail recording from Atrinea Health’s phone number. (Recorded on May 19, 2016.)
KRQE News 13 left multiple messages for the phone number, but never received a call back. Another extension that’s specifically geared toward medical records requests leads to a voicemail that’s full.
Atrinea Health patient Lisa Lopez-Lugo got the same treatment when she tried to call the company’s main phone number.
“I didn’t get anywhere with it,” said Lopez-Lugo.
For her, missing medical records is life-threatening.
“There’s one medicine that I’m on, that I’m supposed to take for the rest of my life, well, I couldn’t get it refilled,” said Lopez-Lugo.
Lopez-Lugo says she has a new doctor now, but is also in the position of needing to repeat various tests before getting new access to her various prescriptions. She also says it’s been difficult finding a doctor’s office that’s willing to accept new patients.
“It’s terrible for everybody involved, it’s terrible for everybody,” said Lopez-Lugo.
Joseph Jaramillo agrees.
“It’s very emotionally stressful,” said Jaramillo.
Atrinea Health had prescriptions for Jaramillo, who has chronic pain after a car crushed his wrist about a decade ago.
“You’ve got to start from step-one and they’ve got to evaluate you, go through x-rays, and all of that good stuff to see where the patient is at,” said Jaramillo.
Jaramillo received a letter from Atrinea days after it closed all of its clinics, where the company offered to send a copy of Jaramillo’s “most recent medical records” to his new health provider “at no cost.” Jaramillo says his doctor’s office faxed the information on March 29, 2016, one day before the deadline listed on the paperwork.
“Its been two months, and I’m still waiting for a response,” said Jaramillo.
Jaramillo says he also left multiple voicemails on Atrinea Health’s main phone number in an effort to request his medical records, however, he says he still has nothing to show for his efforts.
“Whoever has these records, I really wish that you would come forward and just send these records out,” said Jaramillo.
At this point, Atrinea Health is not expected to reopen or “come back.” The Federal court is now doling out control of the health care company’s assets.
According to court documents, a federally appointed patient advocate in Tucson is supposed to help patients transition to new doctors. KRQE News 13 e-mailed that person, Susan Goodman of the “Mesch Clark Rothschild” law firm. She refused to comment.
“I report all press inquiries to the UST (U.S. Treasury) office in the district where I am appointed and do not speak to the press. My understanding is that they will direct your inquiry to the UST Executive Office.”
–Susan Goodman, appointed “Patient Care Ombudsman” in Atrinea Health bankruptcy case.
The New Mexico Medical Board says it’s also investigating several patient complaints against Atrinea Health over claims of missing medical records.
A spokeswoman for the New Mexico Medical Board, Amanda Quintana told KRQE News 13 that there is “no new information to report.”
“The NMMB has not received any new information regarding the Medical Records from Atrinea Health. The Board has received complaints that are being investigated, but currently there is no new information to report.”— Amanda Quintana, Public Information Officer, New Mexico Medical Board.
“These records have to be somewhere, they couldn’t have just disappeared,” said Joseph Jaramillo.
For now, Jaramillo and other former Atrinea Health customers can only hope that their pleas for help make some sort of a difference.
“So we can get these medical records, so we can continue to get our medications and continue to move forward with our lives without having to stress, any longer,” said Jaramillo.
If you want to file a complaint about missing medical records from Atrinea Health, you can do so by filing paperwork through the New Mexico Medical Board’s online “complaint form.”