Naples' first concierge medical practice seeks bankruptcy protection

Health care

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Health care

The bankruptcy filing shows creditors holding unsecured nonpriority claims are collectively owed $867,474, while creditors holding secured claims are owed $215,465. Eight employees are owed a collective $42,560 in unpaid wages.

— The first concierge medical practice in Naples has filed for bankruptcy reorganization, blaming part of its problems on a longtime physician who was disloyal, according to court filings.

Naples Health Care Associates filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings last month, showing assets of $32,222 and liabilities of $1,125,500, records show.

The practice also filed a federal court complaint against Dr. Richard Kravis, seeking an injunction to stop him from breaching the non-compete terms of his employment contract before he was terminated, records show.

Kravis and his attorney, Damien Taylor, of Naples, couldn't be reached for comment.

The founding partner and chief executive officer of Naples Health Care Associates, Thomas Reed, couldn't be reached. The practice has declined comment, according to its attorney, Elinor Baxter, of Bonita Springs.

The concierge medical practice was started in September 2002, bringing to Naples for the first time the "boutique" or personalized approach to medicine that was gaining popularity elsewhere in the United States.

Patients pay an annual membership fee, usually thousands of dollars, to have a more attentive relationship with their doctor, for home or executive visits and after-hour contact.

The kid-glove approach developed because doctors were getting fed up with the managed care environment and patients likewise got fed up with doctors not having enough time to attend to their needs.

The concierge medical practice was started in September 2002, bringing to Naples for the first time the "boutique" or personalized approach to medicine that was gaining popularity elsewhere in the United States.

* * * * *

Patients pay an annual membership fee, usually thousands of dollars, to have a more attentive relationship with their doctor, for home or executive visits and after-hour contact.

Physicians in a concierge practice limit the number of patients they accept so they can spend more time with each patient. Physicians still bill the patients' insurers for covered services.

Today, a dozen or more concierge practices operate in Collier, mostly solo practitioners.

Naples Health Care Associates filed bankruptcy for several reasons, including to deal with Kravis, who the company believes was competing with it while employed, and to renegotiate leases and attract new capital, according to the court filing.

Dan Cholvin, an information technology employee who has worked at the concierge practice for five years before going part time, said Kravis was unhappy and told patients he was going out on his own.

"He told people not to renew their contracts," Cholvin said, referring to patients.

Tensions began running high last year within the practice and continued to escalate, with two doctors leaving abruptly after the bankruptcy filing last month, he said.

The concierge practice used to have around 500 patients and quite a few haven't renewed, their membership, Cholvin said.

Genevieve Galliford, a member for three years, decided not to renew last year. She and her husband's annual fee was $4,000 each, she said.

"I just didn't think it was a team effort," she said, adding that the medical staff insisted she come to the office rather than them coming to her residence.

Cholvin agreed some former employees didn't have patients' best interests in mind, but said the hope is to turn that around with the bankruptcy reorganization.

"It has a lot of potential," he said of the company, adding that a new doctor is coming on board soon.

The bankruptcy filing shows creditors holding unsecured nonpriority claims are collectively owed $867,474, while creditors holding secured claims are owed $215,465. Eight employees are owed a collective $42,560 in unpaid wages.

The concierge practice has offices at 1890 Southwest Health Parkway, Suite 203, off the south side of Immokalee Road. It owes the property owner, a Missouri partnership, $159,310, records show.

A Houston resident is owed $165,000 from a promissory note written last September, and CEO Reed is owed $25,000 from June 2011, and another $37,500 from March 2012, according to the bankruptcy filing.

The practice's gross income in 2011 was $2,526,140 — more than the prior year of $2,341,339, records show.

Kravis was one of the two initial physicians with the practice in 2001 and he renewed his contract in 2006.

On Aug. 31, 2011, he sent an email to Reed that the company had failed to honor its employment contract regarding deferred compensation and other financial matters. He declared his contract terminated and considered himself relieved of all its obligations, but nevertheless said he was willing to stay on a day-to-day basis, the email said.

The practice didn't agree with him and so the two parties tried to agree on new contract terms. Kravis rejected new terms offered and withdrew his termination under the 2006 contract and stayed with the group, according to a letter from his attorney.

But last November, Kravis wrote to Reed that he wouldn't be renewing his contract when it expires at the end of this month.

The complaint said he continued to be disloyal to the practice by soliciting patients for his new medical practice while still working there, among other allegations.

By unanimous consent of the practice directors, they terminated him April 12, the same day the bankruptcy was filed in federal court. The complaint against Kravis was filed the following day, records show.

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