David McBride, M.D., one of only two primary physicians in Cambria, is taking “an extended leave of absence” after 27 years treating local patients, he said in a letter to The Cambrian dated Friday.
He said he expects his last day will be Feb. 6 and didn’t say if or when he will return to the practice.
He said in the letter that Nurse Practitioner Cecelia Lomeli is to continue full time at the practice, which he sold to Community Health Centers of the Central Coast in 2005, and “I expect CHC to fill my position soon with a new physician.”
McBridde added, “Be assured that I am well, if worn. I will remain local and see you around town. I am grateful for the friendships and support from this community.”
Longtime patient Betty Fiscalini said she’s upset about McBride’s decision, but she understands that he needs a rest. She praised him for his diagnosing abilities, gentle-but-firm bedside manner, treating skills and intense level of caring about his patients. “I’m very, very sad,” she said. “It’s a heartbreaker for me. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“I will miss being the doctor to so many Cambrians,” McBride wrote of the patients his wife, Gail, refers to as “David’s family.”
“After many years of dedicated service to CHC and our patients, Dr. McBride has requested a leave of absence for personal reasons, which we have granted to him,” CHC Medical Director John Khan, M.D., said in a statement. “He has been a valuable member of the medical staff, and a physician who cares very deeply for his patients and the community of Cambria. We will sorely miss him.”
In addition to Lomeli, another physician will be brought on board until McBride decides to return to his practice, Khan added.
Cambria’s other primary physician, Robert Gong, declined immediate comment.
Nipomo-based CHC has more than 500 employees in 25 clinics in San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties.
There have been numerous changes in the Cambria practice since McBride sold it to CHC. During county budget and CHC contract negotiations in 2009, the clinic was to have been cut to two days a week, but after a community-wide and county-wide outcry, CHC canceled that cutback.
Other changes have continued, however.
In December, McBride cut back his days at work, and since then, his patients have only been able to book appointments with him on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Plans call for the clinic to remain open five days a week, and McBride said Monday he’s really pleased about that. He added he hopes his patients will continue actively communicating with CHC about the Cambria clinic and their needs.
McBride will really miss his patients and the practice he has loved for so long, according to his wife, Gail, who is a nurse. “He loves being a doctor. This decision has been so hard for him,” she said Monday.
Asked if her husband might return to practice, she wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a medical future for the couple. Her husband is working on his 10-year medical recertification, she said.
Follow Kathe Tanner on Twitter at @CambriaReporter.