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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Is PAMF running amok?

Uploaded: Aug 25, 2021
I don't want to write this, but problems at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation are still increasing. For years I have been a very happy patient at their Palo Alto clinic. Parking was always available, employees were courteous, nurses were efficient and the physicians were not only knowledgeable and caring, but they took time to talk to me.

But things have changed. PAMF is a partner of the Sutter Health family of providers. Rumors and anonymous conversations I've had with staff and physicians at PAMF suggest that Sutter has further implemented its bottom-line financial philosophy -- i.e., make more money. Hence, appointments are often limited to 15 minutes -- and, upon occcation,40 minutes is allowed. How can a physician undertake a reasonably thorough analysis of a problem in 15 minutes, particularly when a patient (like me) comes in with two or three issues to discuss? Note: the physicians are still great, and are trying their best within these forced constraints.

I now have a new problem, perhaps experienced by some of you. My long-time GP is retiring from PAMF, as happened to me once before. So, this time I tried some advanced planning. My GP's nurse provided the name of a physicians there nurses respected. I saw him; he seemed competent and bright. I asked if I could become his patient. "I am not taking any new patients," he replied.

So, I called PAMF's support team, and talked to a pleasant, caring woman. I need a new GP, I said, explaining that a few of my problems were complex and I didn't want someone just out of med school internship. She understood, and said she first would search for doctors taking new patients.

But I am NOT a NEW PATIENT, I declared. I've been coming here for decades.

But you are a new patient now, she replied, because your doctor is retiring.

Just because he's leaving, doesn't mean I should be a new patient, I declared.

Oh yes, it does, she stated. And unfortunately, none of our physicians in Palo Alto are accepting any new patients. I'll look in Redwood City, she offered. Seconds later, she told me that no Redwood City PAMF physicians are accepting new patients. Nor at the Los Alto facility either.

"I'll try Mountain View," she offered. "The Mountain View site is on El Camino, close to Sunnyvale. And it looks like we are in luck! Two physicians there may take you. Let's see, Dr. M's first available appointment is Oct. 28 at 9 a.m. Nothing earlier and his next opening is Nov8. That's all there is."

I told her I have driving difficulties. "Maybe you can take Uber." I g felt I had to accept the appointment.

Then someone on the line asked if I "agree that you will be in California that date," and cancellation rules. It seems like the lawyers have had their input. Do I have to assure them eight weeks in advance that I will be in this state that day?

So here goes my rant. How can a big medical facility, Sutter Health and PAMF, have no openings for any new patients? And why does a well-established patient suddenly become a "new" patient in their system to then suddenly hear no doctors are accepting new patients nearby. In other words, no need to apply. Where is the advanced planning?

My retiring GP told me 12 physicians in Palo Alto are all leaving around the same time, so many patients will be having similar problems. Didn't PAMF officials know a long time ago that these physicians were getting older and would retire? He said PAMF would "assign" a doctor, but I'm suspicious the person will be new to PAMF and with limited years of practice.

What are we patients supposed to do? Self-diagnose? Heal ourselves? Some have serious problems and need attention. The team member who helped me said she didn't know what I or others could do, except call back monthly to find see is any doctor is taking new patients.

Can I call or email you, I asked? No, she said, there are many team members and she has no individual number. Nor can she call me back if an opening comes up. It's against the rules.

That's a crazy circular system.

My neighbor had similar problems trying to get a new physician. It took her a couple of months, and that was nearly two years ago.

Second problem is that some of the newer phsicians seem too textbook-trained. Constipation? Try MetamuciL. Sore throat? Two Tylenol four times a day. Pain when walking? Use Ibuprofen.

Another friend described his uncle's experience at PAMF. "My uncle said he felt like he was just a cog in a machine -- the doctor was treating him anonymously, not as ME as a real person."

Then there's the long wait in some departments to get an appointment. "The doctor is now taking appointments for late November or early December," I was told recently. I replied i had pain. "November or December?" was the reply.

I have a few easy suggestions for PAMF that could help a bit -- but getting more physicians is their immediate priority.

Suggestions: It would be nice if, when I checked in, the appointment desk could guestimate how long a wait I have. The other day, at one office, I had to wait 1-1/2 hours to see my doctor -- a visit that lasted five minutes. "Sorry for the wait," she said, "We had to squeeze you in." But I had made that appointment six weeks ago. Another symbol of overload of patients, compared to the number of physicians.

That wait, however, t is the exception to the rule -- most departments try hard to see a patient with 15 or 20 minutes after arrival.

Stanford Health Care has some similar issues, but my focus to day is on PAMF. I want it to get better -- to get back the way it was about four or five years ago.

The irony of all this is that I knew then that I was lucky to be living next to two of the best health facilities in the state -- PAMF and Stanford. They still can be, I strongly believe that.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mondoman, a resident of Green Acres,
on Aug 25, 2021 at 1:31 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

Kaiser Permanente consistently ranks very highly in patient outcomes. Having observed people interacting with both PAMF and KP during these past two Covid years, it seemed clear to me that KP was acting proactively and flexibly, while PAMF just muddled along, seemingly without any forethought (or sometimes, any thought at all).

Posted by Neal, a resident of Community Center,
on Aug 25, 2021 at 4:01 pm

Neal is a registered user.

There's a real possibility that doctors don't want to work for Sutter and that's why there is a shortage of docs. My personal experiences with Sutter have convinced me they are as crooked as a dog's hind leg. On numerous occasions I have been over billed for visits. I have won every billing dispute.

Posted by Bob+Ohlmann, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Aug 25, 2021 at 4:36 pm

Bob+Ohlmann is a registered user.

Thank you for revealing this problem with PAMF. I have kept the same young family physician there for a few years so I have not had the problem of getting a new one. My main problem is the long wait for an appointment with a specialist. But I have gone to an integrated medicine MD out of the PAMF system and have had excellent results, up to two hours of attention from him, and replacement of 7 of my 10 pills a day with dietary supplements which seem to be improving my health considerably. The only problem is that he doesn't take Medicare or insurance so it has been almost as expensive as a concierge-service doctor, which, fortunately, I can afford. I'm sorry PAMF decided to join in with Sutter Health a few years ago.

Posted by Allen+Akin, a resident of Professorville,
on Aug 25, 2021 at 5:19 pm

Allen+Akin is a registered user.

Sorry you're having to deal with this, too. I've been trying to find a new PCP (Primary Care Physician) at PAMF for the past three months. I'll hold out hope a while longer, but eventually I'll have no choice but to go elsewhere.

Posted by Similar situation, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Aug 25, 2021 at 8:09 pm

Similar situation is a registered user.

I'm in a similar situation. My doctor left PAMF three years ago. I've been checking regularly since then, but I haven't yet been able to find a new primary care physician who is taking patients at PAMF's Palo Alto location.
Is Stanford Family Medicine any better in terms of finding a doctor? Any other suggestions?

Posted by community member, a resident of University South,
on Aug 25, 2021 at 11:07 pm

community member is a registered user.

Yes, Diana, Sutter has turned the once wonderful PAMF into a money making factory. Patients are just widgets to be processed through the system.

I have been postponing my medical visits because it is such a routinized system that I don't feel satisfied after an appointment. The doctors and nurses do their best but the constraints are strong.

They didn't give Covid vaccinations here, they offered their locations in other cities.

And the web site is frustrating, poorly designed.

It's a scandal what they have done to a long standing, valuable institution.

Posted by Paul Bellamy, a resident of Atherton,
on Aug 26, 2021 at 7:13 am

Paul Bellamy is a registered user.

This is why every family should stress that at least one of their children becomes a general practitioner or avoid the runaround of a conventional profit-generating clinic.

Our MD daughter sends us to a private lab for tests and then conducts a regular appointment/check-up at our home. Vaccinations are also administered in this manner and she delivers any required or needed meds. The only time we have to go to a clinic is if a specialist is warranted.

Unfortunately many others have become powerless pawns of the medical profession and things get even worse if one must rely on county health services in exigent situations.

Unfortunately we do not have a dentist in the family.

Posted by Emily Johnston, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Aug 26, 2021 at 8:58 am

Emily Johnston is a registered user.

Clinical care could and should be improved but count your blessings.

Many inhabitants of impoverished 3rd world countries would love to have a PAMF at their beckoning.

Posted by Eeyore, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Aug 26, 2021 at 9:23 am

Eeyore is a registered user.

I was a happy PAMF member for years. I was sad to leave, but switched to Kaiser when Medicare kicked in. Now, hearing this, I am happy to be with KP. Sorry to hear that Sutter has ruined what was once a fine institution.

Paul Bellamy is probably right moving forward. you will need to have three children who are, respectively a doctor, a lawyer, and a dentist.

Posted by Willows Dad, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Aug 26, 2021 at 9:25 am

Willows Dad is a registered user.

Yup - I went to PAMF my entire life, until my doctor retired, then two years later my next doctor moved out of the area. At least they assigned me a new doctor, but I was tired of the revolving door and wanted some say in who treated me! Meanwhile I was fighting with their billing dept. over an error that was clearly theirs. It was for a small dollar amount, but I figured I didn't want to be fighting with them over a big mistake, so I moved to Stanford (Menlo Medical Clinic) and could not be happier. Looking for a new doctor for my mother at Sutter is nearly impossible (her current one is moving to a concierge care facility) so I think we will make the move to Stanford for her also. Based on my experience at Stanford, they actually care about me! PAMF urgent care is still a valuable community resource, though.

Posted by DianaDiamond, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 26, 2021 at 10:46 am

DianaDiamond is a registered user.

Thanks to all of you who commented about your experiences at PAMF. Some are quite similar to mine, so I/we are in this together.

The big question, however, is how to get PAMF to improve? Sinde this Palo Alto clinic is just part of a group, how do we get Sutter to care? Sutter is such a big operation, but their bottom-line attitude is wrong -- they ARE IN HEALTH CARE, not manufacturing widgets.

Let's keep discussing!


Posted by m h park, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 26, 2021 at 11:27 am

m h park is a registered user.

I'm terrified my GP of many years will retire. She usually makes time for me.
However, I recently needed to check on a hip replacement due to pain and the next appmt with my surgeon was end of October. I got a "doctor's assistant" the next day. He ordered x-rays and reviewed them with me immediately and ordered an MRI which I was able to get immediately. But, in order to meet with a doctor I have to wait until end of October. Meanwhile I'm in limbo. I suggest you try the doctor's assistants. They are very competent and can at least relieve you of some anxiety. I had a visit recently in the eye department and it was also very satisfactory. You don't always have to see a doctor unless your issues are complex.
I do agree that the system seems to be broken. I never was able to get an appmt.
for a covid shot at PAMF; I am in the highest risk category. Had to wait for the
stadium to open.

Posted by staying+home, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Aug 26, 2021 at 1:01 pm

staying+home is a registered user.

This article and comment section feels like something out of Next Door or some neighborhood email group. The author had a bad experience with PAMF/Sutter and leverages their platform to complain and the comments pile on.

As a counter point, I have had many fantastic experiences with PAMF/Sutter in the past including GP visits, urgent care, and specialist visits in the last 6 months. I've not had any problems with specialist referrals or access. In fact, their MyHealth app has been amazing, allowing me to see test results as soon as they come in or communicate to doctors and nursing staff without having to go through a automated phone tree.

It's entirely possible my experience is unique to myself and my circumstances, so it may very well be that PAMF/Sutter is a greedy poorly run institution. That being said, no where in this article does it mention the impact to the health care industry from the pandemic. Maybe use this space to find out why doctors are retiring in higher rates or discuss how even skilled professionals have a hard time making a living in our community.

Palo Alto is extremely fortunate to have such amazing health care options with PAMF (and Stanford Hospital too). There have been times in my life where the nearest hospital was a 30 minute drive. I have lived in towns where the local hospital doesn't have a specialists on staff. PAMF/Sutter may not be perfect and certainly have faults (bureaucracy, insurance red tape) but at the end of the day, they make this community better. It doesn't take living in a 3rd world country to realize that we have it good.

Posted by Judith Perry, a resident of Barron Park,
on Aug 26, 2021 at 1:44 pm

Judith Perry is a registered user.

FYI...the health insurance companies run the show.

Posted by YP, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Aug 26, 2021 at 5:07 pm

YP is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Aug 26, 2021 at 7:46 pm

Annette is a registered user.

The problem stems from having too many MBAs running the show. I'm talking about “straight" MBAs, not MD/MBAs who have real experience with real people. Reduce the # of MBAs running Sutter and quality will improve. The doctors are not the crux of the problem; management is.

Posted by Old+teacher, a resident of Community Center,
on Aug 27, 2021 at 10:34 am

Old+teacher is a registered user.

Thanks, Diane. It seems your experience is widespread. Money over care. I hope Sutter wakes up.

Posted by PST, a resident of South of Midtown,
on Aug 27, 2021 at 10:48 am

PST is a registered user.

Newer doctors are often better trained and more aware of recent advances. You might wish to reconsider your bias against them. It would perhaps open up more options for you.

Posted by Blaine Alston, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Aug 27, 2021 at 11:35 am

Blaine Alston is a registered user.

>> Newer doctors are often better trained and more aware of recent advances.

Not necessarily...a doctor with at least 10-15 years of dealing with individual cases has far more practical experience than a newbie relying on medical journals.

And the same applies to dentists.

Millennial-aged health care professionals have a long way to go towards getting the full drift.

Posted by Old Steve, a resident of St. Claire Gardens,
on Aug 27, 2021 at 1:01 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

Let's be clear. Money may be the issue, but both PAMF and Sutter are Not For Profit and the doctors are each part of practice groups. This is a different mode than say KP (also not for profit). My solution has been a different practice for a GP I can see easily, and PAMF specialists to which the GP has referred me. PAMF/Sutter is too big for me, but if you like one place for everything can get in, and don't mind Administrivia it works OK.

Posted by Green+Gables, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Aug 27, 2021 at 1:10 pm

Green+Gables is a registered user.

My primary is a month older than my older daughter, so, hopefully, she won't move away to a less expensive area. Comparing apples to oranges, SUTTER is only interested in MONEY [portion removed.]

Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 27, 2021 at 1:39 pm

Anne is a registered user.

Hello Old Steve -

I'm a former employee of PAMF, Palo Alto location. Disgust with Sutter, the parent organization, was a very large component of my decision to leave. I agree with Diana and others that Sutter has ruined what used to be a fabulous organization.

Please don't be taken in by Sutter's "Not for Profit" marketing. Organizations under the Sutter umbrella, including the parent company, are for profit or nonprofit depending on the entity. For example, the PAM doctor's group is for profit, and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation is non profit, which allows it to attract philanthropy and avoid taxes. I'm sure Sutter has very clever accountants. Because the Foundation is non profit, it is REQUIRED to provide indigent care, education, etc. in order to keep that status. Sutter brags about providing these services but doesn't disclose it is required to. (I might add that in the past Sutter has been sued for not living up to their obligations as a non profit.) Sutter got rid of PAMF's research group, probably because it didn't help the bottom line.

Think of Sutter as a giant health care holding company designed to pay enormous executive salaries to the folks sitting in Sacramento.

The over billing is a real issue and I wouldn't be surprised if it was part of the business plan. One employee told me he gets pressure to over bill.

I think most of the doctors are very good and are doing their best in a bad system, especially since Sutter has shortened appointment times. As a long time patient at PAMF, I have had very good and very bad experiences.

In recent years, my pet peeve has been Sutter's unwillingness to replace or properly maintain medical equipment. As an employee, it was terribly frustrating to have to make do with malfunctioning equipment. As a patient, I really started to get concerned when I had three appointments one week and at each one, equipment needed for my appointment was broken.

Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 27, 2021 at 1:41 pm

Anne is a registered user.

Thanks for starting this discussion Diana - I would really like to see some super in depth investigative journalism on Sutter Health -

Posted by TLM, a resident of Barron Park,
on Aug 27, 2021 at 1:42 pm

TLM is a registered user.

No one has mentioned the underlying problem that primary care physicians do not make enough money to live in Palo Alto, compared to the many places in the country where they can make a decent living, own a home, etc.
For a couple of decades there has been a shortage of good primary care doctors here (pediatricians, internists...non-surgical specialties). The best primary care physicians I know are married to someone who makes a higher salary than they are, so they are able to stay here because they love the area.
Newly minted physicians out of residency are very hesitant to set up practice in an area with such a high cost of living.

Most of the observations on here are valid, but community member is wrong in saying that PAMF Palo Alto didn't offer Covid shots. They gave them daily at the Palo Alto facility beginning at least in mid-January when I took my mom there for one. For many people, it was better to drive to a sooner appointment at a different location than wait for a spot to open up locally.

Posted by Jesj, a resident of Barron Park,
on Aug 27, 2021 at 2:04 pm

Jesj is a registered user.

And the icing on this cake is that like all Americans with health insurance we pay about 2x more than in amy other country, for health care ranked at the near bottom of developed nations.

Posted by Sunshine, a resident of Barron Park,
on Aug 27, 2021 at 3:27 pm

Sunshine is a registered user.

I noted the many negative many negative comments about PAMF. I had a similar experience many years ago. I decided to look elsewhere and switched to Kaiser in Mt View. I found Kaiser excellent. How long it takes for an appointment depends on whether I need quick attention or am calling for a routine checkup about something.
Many of my questions have been answered quickly on the phone. I have found the doctors very knowledgeable and helpful. When I needed a new doctor because mine was retiring--I received a list of doctors who were accepting new patients and chose one from among them.
The only thing PAMF appears to do consistently is charge a lot for service.
My switch was made easy when I dealt with an oncologist who spent each of my husband's appointments swearing at this computer. Computers can be frustrating, but doctors should have more self control and not waste my time.

Posted by Ken Powell, a resident of Barron Park,
on Aug 27, 2021 at 10:41 pm

Ken Powell is a registered user.

I, too, have been a PAMF patient for many years -- 5 decades and counting. I also went though the process of my doctor retiring but it was easy to find a new one. New PCP was young but good at the job. And like yours, she moved after a few years and I had to go through the process again. That was about 8 years ago and they had new doctors available.

I remember the old days (on Channing and before Sutter) when it seemed *every* appointment required me to wait 30 or more minutes to be seen. PAMF completely fixed that (IMHO) and then Sutter came. The decent "MyHealthOnline" came, I see (and chart) may labs, I could schedule my own appointments, and the clinic still functioned well. Yes, seeing a specialist could take months but calling would usually get me in quickly if it was urgent.

I do think the doctors are getting burnt out with the 10 minute appointment granularity. It does have some of that "large organization" feel.

But I need to correct something you said. Sutter is a non-profit. So they're not trying to "make more money". They may be aspiring to buy or acquire new equipment or facilities, or make up for the 25-40% "negotiated" reimbursement rates from Medicare and private insurers. They're squeezed from both sides. When I get my Medicare statement, the largest chunk of payment is usually called "adjustment" or something like that. That's got to hurt.

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Aug 28, 2021 at 10:01 am

Annette is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] I've been going to PAMF for decades and the doctors have all been excellent. Someone above mentioned insurance shortening appointment times. That's the sort of MBA decision that is detrimental to good medical care and patient satisfaction. Assembly line procedures may work in the automotive industry, but doctors treating real people with real problems need the latitude to spend whatever time is necessary to deal effectively with whatever the patient. I'm willing to bet that there's data that proves that the penny-wise approach is pound foolish b/c problems that could have been solved had the patient and doctor spent just a little more time together go undetected and/or unresolved.

Posted by Ari Fleischman, a resident of Atherton,
on Aug 28, 2021 at 10:17 am

Ari Fleischman is a registered user.

Simple solution...lawyers hire paralegals to handle many of their task-oriented legal procedures and documentations.

Train more physician's assistants to lighten the load of the MDs for both expediency and to reduce the cost of various non-critical appointments.

Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Aug 28, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Pay attention to the steady flow of news about Sutter's legal woes including settlements for insurance fraud, overcharges, use of out-of-network consultants to boost fees, etc. Sutter dismissed one consultant's whistleblower report on the grounds that doctor wasn't really a Sutter employee. Their safety violations during COVID have been horrendous and it's only lately they've required staff to mask up, Reporting the violations has been challenging.

Three friends waited 2 and 3 weeks for their cancer diagnoses AFTER the tests results were in, with only the friend in Concierge Medicine being told she was cancer-free immediately but by her internist not by her surgeon who only got to it weeks later! Why?

Their complaint line is useless and returning calls is a joke (a topic of a previous Diamond column).

Whenever I'd comment on the very long waits to see specialists, they'd say they couldn't hire more doctors due to the high real estate costs here. When I'd suggest that maybe they should stop their constant advertising for new patients, they'd either gulp or laugh.

For the first time this past year I was charged for my usual annual visit that's always been fully covered. Why? Because "more topics were discussed than covered by the scope of the visit" although we discussed exactly the same issues as in years past.

I paid the bill and had my insurance folks check to make sure nothing new and screwy had happened to my coverage. Coverage fine but "too many topics discussed." During these time-consuming go-rounds, my PCP's staff suggested I to go Walgreen's for my PAMF-prescribed shingles vaccine because "they're cheaper and faster than we are.'

Then months later without explanation, I got an email saying they'd refunded the annual visit fee followed 15 minutes later by an email saying "Make an appointment now. We're here for you."

Posted by Jules Marino, a resident of Mayfield,
on Aug 28, 2021 at 11:07 pm

Jules Marino is a registered user.

I was with PAMF when I retired and it was okay, then their co-pay and hospital charges for extras got worse. I contacted a broker and he suggested that I change to Stanford for my supplemental coverage policy, but I wanted something with a smaller monthly premium. He suggested a new carrier for Santa Clara county residents. So I signed on to try them out. They have no monthly premiums no co-pays, and most prescriptions are free, or just a few dollars. My hospital stays, special surgeries, and other medical bills have totaled over $10,000 since I've been with them, and I have not had to pay one cent. My Dr. is young and energetic and he cares for me and wants to take care of me. The plan is called Alignment Health Care and it is affiliated with El Camino Hospital and they pay everything that Medicare does not cover. They are like PAMF back in the good old days. They are the new guys in town and they're growing fast, and that's a pretty nice hospital down there in Mountain View

Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Aug 28, 2021 at 11:41 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Here's the latest on the Sutter antitrust agreement from the Sacramento Bee:
Web Link

:Sutter Health is $575 million poorer �" and now must operate under new rules designed to curb its ability to dictate the price of health care in Sacramento and Northern California.

A judge late Friday approved a landmark antitrust settlement agreement between the Sacramento-based hospital chain, the state of California and a group of health insurers and big employers.

The final approval by Judge Anne-Christine Massullo, in San Francisco Superior Court, came nearly two years after Sutter tentatively agreed to the deal �" and seven years after a health insurance plan run by the United Food and Commercial Workers union sued the health care giant. The state joined the case in 2018...."

Posted by jhskrh, a resident of Community Center,
on Aug 29, 2021 at 7:04 am

jhskrh is a registered user.

Several of my docs have retired, I sm pudhing 70c I look for new docs 35-45 years of age. They are will outlive me and have plenty of debt so need to work! Also I don't recommend Medicare Advantage plans (HMO). Too restrictive, better to get a medigap /supplementary plan so you are not stuck in a specific healthcare system. Not a fan of PAMF, have one glaucoma specialist there, book online only months in advance, otherwise phone reps insist on pushing me to optometrist for my exam. All about money.

Posted by Sorry+to+hear+this, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Aug 29, 2021 at 9:23 am

Sorry+to+hear+this is a registered user.

I am stunned reading some of these comments. I have been going to PAMF for decades and find the whole operation to be ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT. I never wait more than 10 minutes to get in to my appointment. I had an appointment recently and thought I had scheduled a physical, turns out I hadn't, but my doctor did a physical for me anyway and spent about an hour with me. My original doctor left PAMF about 10 years ago and I found the most amazing replacement with little trouble. She emails me late at night, always answers my questions on their online system -- I feel like she treats me like a concierge patient, even though I'm not. My husband and children also go and we have had nothing but positive experiences. I see where some people here are happy with Kaiser, but I have friends with Kaiser who tell me they never see the same medical experts twice -- they might see one physical therapist one week and another the next. I am actually appalled that The Weekly would allow Diana to use her column to air a personal gripe like this -- very shoddy journalism

Posted by Miriam+Palm, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Aug 29, 2021 at 6:12 pm

Miriam+Palm is a registered user.

Diana's experiences mirror mine, alas. And while most of the comments support her view, not all do. As what she pens is an OPINION column, she is entitled to express her opinion, as commenters are.

"Sorry to hear this" is out of line to say the paper should suppress what Diana wrote. Glad she had a better experience with PAMF than some of us.

Posted by vmshadle, a resident of Meadow Park,
on Aug 29, 2021 at 9:31 pm

vmshadle is a registered user.

Sorry+to+hear+this, please look up the definition of a blog and of a blogger. A simple Google search reveals the following quotation regarding bloggers:

"Bloggers (a word for people who write on blogs) often write about their opinions and thoughts."

Palo Alto Online/Embarcadero Media publishes several bloggers. These are not the paid reporters and editors but rather community members with their own perspectives and voices.

On this site, blogs are indexed under "Blogs," not under "News." That is the key distinction.

Posted by Scott+Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Aug 30, 2021 at 10:54 am

Scott+Lamb is a registered user.

I agree that 15 minutes is awfully short and it's frustrating to struggle to find a new primary care physician. I don't think the PCP shortage is unique to PAMF though.

I think you'll have a better time if you abandon the idea that newer doctors are inferior. The opposite may even be true! Web Link My theory is that doctors don't keep up with advances in medicine after they graduate from medical school. Medical license renewals require Continuing Medical Education, but this requirement is apparently not rigorous enough.

Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Aug 30, 2021 at 11:58 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"Sorry+to+hear+this" is not only insulting Ms Diamond in calling for her to be censored but he/she is also calling ALL of US liars in recounting OUR experiences at PAMF.


Makes me wonder if he/she has some kind of vested interest in PAMF/Sutter? Maybe he/she is using their Concierge Service so all of our experiences don't apply to him/her. And of course the article from the Sacrament Bee I posted above about Sutter's practices is lying and should also be censored.

Posted by community member, a resident of University South,
on Aug 31, 2021 at 12:43 am

community member is a registered user.

I called today to make an appointment. I waited a HALF HOUR on the phone before someone spoke to me.

They also have a rule: if you haven't seen your long-time doctor for 3 years, they classify you as a new patient. I wonder what businessman mentality created that rule.

Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Aug 31, 2021 at 10:26 am

Online Name is a registered user.

More Sutter/PAMF news.

Sutter Health settles Medicare charges for $90 million

Web Link

Posted by Ex PAMF Patient, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Aug 31, 2021 at 2:19 pm

Ex PAMF Patient is a registered user.

I was a PAMF patient for more than a decade. At first I was very happy with the medical care I received. Specialists were knowledgeable and kind, it was relatively easy to get an appt and the online system was great. The one area of significant difficulty was primary care. For whatever reason, my PC and I did not connect and PAMF made it difficult for me to change PCs. So I stuck with her.

And then Sutter bought PAMF. So not only did I have a PC that I didn't connect with, but the specialists I was referred to after Sutter bought PAMF were not as thorough or good. Appts were harder to get, and they were way too short. Problems were not adequately addressed causing me to have to come back for repeated visits. For one health issue I got fed up and found a specialist at Stanford Health Care who diagnosed the problem correctly in 15 minutes and the treatment plan worked.

The disgusting part of PAMF's downward spiral in quality is a health issue that was poorly addressed, long term, that has resulted in a health problem that is serious and may not be reversible. Had I had a better relationship with my PC, or had been able to change PCs, and had a better visit with a PAMF specialist who gave outright wrong advice, this would not have happened.

I am no longer a PAMF patient, having transferred all of my care to Stanford Health Care. Stanford is not perfect, there are long wait times for some doctors, but the doctors I see there seem to know what they are doing. Found a great primary care doc. And the medical staff I interact with treat me as a human being, rather than simply as a source of income.

Posted by A Person, a resident of Southgate,
on Sep 1, 2021 at 8:31 am

A Person is a registered user.

I've had a disastrous year of billing issues with PAMF/Sutter. It's not really PAMF anymore. Even the doctors are frustrated because it seems they're all leaving.

Posted by A Person, a resident of Southgate,
on Sep 1, 2021 at 8:37 am

A Person is a registered user.

@staying+home...please don't mansplain this situation to people with significant PAMF/Sutter issues. As someone with health issues and PAMF/Sutter over-billing issues, I'm irritated by your comment and find it very "Nextdoor," as you put it.

Posted by PAMF+MD, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Sep 9, 2021 at 6:38 am

PAMF+MD is a registered user.

I was a physician at PAMF for many years and have moved on to another organization. For what it is worth, I have always selected Kaiser for my families healthcare and have been delighted with the quality and convenience of service.

Posted by Mondoman, a resident of Green Acres,
on Oct 5, 2021 at 5:55 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

Well, apparently PAMF is continuing its winning ways. Just checked today, and they are requiring that every single flu shot be given in an individual appointment, 1 shot per appt only (so, 2 persons -> 2 appts needed). And of course, don't call your doctor to schedule it - you must call the *one* vaccine appt line with 30+ minute hold time. Or use the app/website, which seems to be the way things are going.

By contrast, Kaiser lists flu shot clinic hours at its various locations, and lets you know if they are indoors, outdoors or drivethrough. No appt necessary, just your ID and KP member number.

Posted by P2L1, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 12, 2021 at 6:53 pm

P2L1 is a registered user.

PAMF, if left to its own devices, would be a better place.

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