Palos hospital says its doctors aren’t sure they’re qualified to practice medicine, but they are not saying they won’t practice.
The hospital is on the brink of closing after the state Senate passed a bill that would require its doctors to have at least a B.S. degree in medicine.
It’s a stark contrast to the medical community, which has been celebrating the arrival of a new generation of doctors who have studied medicine at top universities and worked for large companies.
They’ve become a huge draw for employers, and the influx of qualified candidates has created an influx of doctors from across the state who are eager to help their fellow residents.
Many say they don’t know where to begin.
“We’re so used to people having a doctorate and having to go to school and that’s the kind of training you need to have in medicine,” said Jennifer McAllister, a physician at a hospital in El Dorado Hills.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen anymore.
I don’t see how that’s gonna happen.
We have to teach our patients, educate them, to take care of themselves.”
McAllister and her husband, Joe, a dentist, have become a fixture at medical events, hosting patient education sessions and offering free counseling to anyone who needs it.
But they’ve also seen a spike in patients, particularly those with medical needs.
A doctor at a clinic in El Cerrito, who asked to remain anonymous because he feared repercussions for speaking out, said he’s seen more patients this year with conditions like diabetes, cancer, chronic pain and anxiety.
He’s worried that many of them will eventually lose their insurance.
He said he expects a rise in medical students to enroll this fall, and said he hopes the hospital’s closure means more doctors like him are ready to serve their communities.
“I just feel like this is going to be an opportunity for a lot of people to make it in the industry,” he said.
“They’re going to see a lot more of these opportunities.”
In the meantime, patients are still getting their medicine.
The number of people in need at Palos increased to more than 20,000 last year, up from 8,000 the year before.
But McAllisters’ husband, who has diabetes, said the hospital will continue to provide care even if it closes.
“There are people who are going to need their services, and I think the best thing for us is to keep doing what we’re doing and keep getting better at it,” he told NBC affiliate KTVU.
“If we’re going for the same thing, we’ll do the same.”
A spokesman for the state Health Department told NBC News the department is working to help ensure patients have access to care.