Cancer clinic on the verge of closing

Stanislaus County may be forced to close its cancer clinic because most of its low-income patients will follow its disgruntled doctor into private practice, his attorney said.

"All of the patients and the entire oncology staff have chosen to go with Dr. (R. Michael) Williams," Oakland lawyer James Margolis said. "They cannot have a clinic without patients."

The Health Services Agency acknowledged the imminent departure of Williams, who has filed a $30 million claim against the county. But the agency said nothing about potential competition forcing officials to explore shutting the clinic on Scenic Drive in Modesto.

The county is legally responsible for 65 indigent adult patients making 201 visits last year. That represents 9 percent of the clinic's total 734 patients and less than 5 percent of last year's 4,299 visits.

Williams persuaded the other 91 percent of the patients to sign forms authorizing the county to release their medical records to Williams, Margolis said. The doctor offered to care for the county's indigent adults as well but an administrator "attempted to hold the patients hostage" and refused, the attorney said.

County supervisors scheduled a Sept. 20 public hearing to receive input on closing the clinic.

The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. in the basement chamber at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto.