TRMC absorbs Zanakis’ records

Published 8:43 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2010

With the closing of Troy Pediatrics, the parents of the nearly 4,500 former patients of Dr. Christina Zanakis must make decisions about transferring medical records.

Zanakis, who had operated Troy Pediatrics LLC for more than five years, closed her practice on Dec. 10. At that time, the 4,500 charts, or patient records, were transferred to the Care First Urgent Care Clinic operated by Troy Regional Medical Center.

“When Dr. Zanakis decided she would be leaving Troy, she asked us if we would take responsibility for her charts,” said Teresa Grimes, CEO of Troy Regional. “We did it because we didn’t want 4,500 people in Troy in a panic, worrying about how they were going to get access to their medical records.”

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Grimes said Zanakis was well-respected and admired in the medical community in Troy, even serving at one time as chief of staff at TRMC. Her decision to close the practice and leave Troy was driven by personal concerns.

“Her heart was here, and she loved her patients,” Grimes said.

Now, many of those patients will be seeking a new primary care option. Grimes said patients have been offered the opportunity to see Dr. Charles Wood and Roger Kirk, CRNP, who both work in the Care First clinic. Even though the clinic was not intended to be a primary care facility, Kirk had practiced with Zanakis for several years and is familiar with her patient base. Woods also is certified to treat pediatrics, Grimes said.

“If patients choose to see another pediatrician, they can request a transfer of their medical records and we will send copies of those records to that physician’s office,” Grimes said.

For example, the Charles Henderson Child Health Center includes four pediatricians on its staff; SARHA has one. Patients who plan to use those facilities will need to sign a medical release request at either SARHA or CHCHC, and the request will be sent to the Care First Clinic and processed. Hospital representatives said the records can be transferred within a week.

Parents or legal guardians must make the transfer request, and a photo ID is required. Medicaid patients will need to complete a Patient First transfer form, which can be completedin the office or by the patient by logging onto www.medicaid.alabama/gov. Physician-to-physician record transfers are free, but charges would be incurred if patients request their own copies of the records.

Parents also may come into the clinic, located in the Physicians Office Building 1330 Highway 231 South Suite No. 2, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and sign a request form to have medical records sent to a new physician. Medical regulations prohibit the release of the records to individuals without the approval of Medicaid, if applicable.

According to a representative of CHCHC, parents are being encouraged to make decisions about transferring their child’s records prior to having to visit a pediatrician or physician for a sick visit. For regular, well-visit appointments, the clinic is requiring the patient records be transferred before the child is seen. However, if a child is sick, the CHCHC doctors will try to see the patient, allowing parents to complete the request forms during that visit.

Grimes said patients of Troy Pediatrics should be receiving letters within the next several weeks, explaining the steps they should take in seeking to transfer medical records, if necessary. “We’re trying to go through the charts we have and confirming everything as we send out the letters,” Grimes said. “If someone hasn’t received a letter by the end of January, we encourage them to call us.”