Peter Lucas of Aquebogue drove to Wading River Monday to see his longtime physician for blood work.
But when he arrived at Dr. Robert Bernard’s office on Route 25A, he was turned away by 10 signs taped up around the building advising patients that the office is closed and warning that “trespassers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Premises under 24-hour surveillance.”
Mr. Lucas, 66, is one of several patients who reached out to the Riverhead News-Review in recent days searching for answers after the sudden closure of the local doctor’s practice, Family Care Medical Center.
“He is a brilliant, brilliant doctor,” Mr. Lucas said. “He doesn’t stop at any set path. He takes the time to think about how to best treat his patients.”
Dr. Bernard’s patients are now being told to call the regular practice phone number for more information about the closure. That line produced a busy signal for much of Monday morning, but the calls that did get through were being forwarded to the Ageless 360 medical group in Mount Sinai.
Bill McDonald of Campolo, Middleton & McCormick in Ronkonkoma, an attorney for Dr. Bernard, said Monday evening that his client sold his practice to Ageless 360 about a year ago. Dr. Bernard was notified by Ageless 360 last week that the office was being closed and his employment was being terminated along with all office staff, Mr. McDonald said.
Mr. McDonald said Dr. Bernard was not involved in the decision to close the office.
“He was not given any notice,” the attorney said.
Dr. Roxanne Carfora, the owner of Ageless 360, did not respond to a telephone message left with a receptionist at her office in Hauppauge.
A receptionist at Ageless 360, who declined to give her name, said Dr. Bernard’s practice is “closed for good” and the Mount Sinai office is treating Dr. Bernard’s former patients “as a courtesy.”
New York State Tax Department records show that 10 warrants have been issued in Dr. Bernard’s company’s name since 2012. The total warranted assessment currently stands at more than $70,000, a department spokesperson confirmed Monday.
Tax department records also show Dr. Bernard’s company — Robert Bernard, M.D., P.C. — was dissolved by annulment of authority in 2011, a sanction imposed by the New York Secretary of State. Corporations that have been delinquent in filing returns or paying taxes or fees for two consecutive years may be subject to such a sanction, according to the Secretary of State website.
A Riverhead Justice Court clerk stated that Dr. Bernard also settled a dispute in 2011 with his former landlord, though details of the settlement were not immediately available. The professional park where his office had been since the 1990s was sold last year for $4.6 million. Representatives of the building’s current owner, 425 County Road, LLC, did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story.
The receptionist at Ageless 360 said the medical group’s Mount Sinai office is currently working on obtaining patient records from Dr. Bernard’s practice in Wading River.
“We’re taking it day by day, trying to figure out how to go from here,” she said.
Mr. McDonald said he could not comment on patient records since that could be the subject of pending litigation. He did say no records have been lost.
Mr. Lucas said he called both the Suffolk County and New York State health departments Monday and was told that in order to get copies of his own medical records, he needs to write a letter to Ageless 360, which is required to respond within 15 days. Then, he would have to pay for copies.
“Anything that’s in there, I need to pay to get,” he said. “It’s a tight place to be in now.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 6:40 p.m. to include comment from Dr. Bernard’s attorney.