First Friday features Springfield Clinic

Dr. David Kowalski, representing Springfield Clinic, makes a presentation during the Effingham County Chamber First Friday luncheon last week.

A Springfield Clinic doctor recently explained the departure of Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage at the clinic, which has an office in Effingham.

“The reason was we would not accept the reimbursement rates they offered,” said Dr. David Kowalski. “... We felt that it would be financially irresponsible of us to accept the terms of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield offers.”

Kowalski said if they accepted the offer from Blue Cross/Blue Shield it would hinder their ability to recruit and retain primary care physicians and specialists. He said it would have a great impact on the rural communities served by Springfield Clinic.

“We feel that if we cannot retain or recruit providers that our business model would implode, not unlike our local hardware store,” he said. “We feel we owe our patients more – a future that is stable and they continue to receive great care for many generations to come. It is, and has been, an honor and pleasure to serve this rural community.”

He said not being fiscally responsible would be a disservice to the community.

“With all of that being said, we are currently trying to renegotiate with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. As we do, we are able to see out-of-network patients,” Kowalski said. “We have processes in place to mitigate the financial impact to our patients while we work out the network.”

Lab work and X-rays for the Springfield Clinic Blue Cross/Blue Shield patients are now being performed by HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital.

“We are very fortunate to have an excellent hospital in St. Anthony’s. They stepped up their game and they are doing a great job,” Kowalski said. “We feel honored and proud to serve this community and look forward to providing services for many, many years to come. We hope this difficult time with Blue Cross/Blue Shield is short and we know the road we have been forced to travel is very, very rough.”

Kowalski practices internal medicine and pediatrics at the Springfield Clinic of Effingham. He spoke during the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce First Friday luncheon last week.

“Twenty-five years ago my family and I moved here,” Kowalski said. “I started with the Marshall Clinic that merged with Springfield Clinic.”

He said he always felt welcome in the community and considers Effingham a great place to raise a family. Kowalski said he always enjoyed visiting the local hardware store.

“I always appreciated the time, advice and help that they were willing to give me,” he said. “As we all know, the local competition and their lower reimbursements for their products and services forced them to shut down. This leads me to the reason I’m here today to speak with you.”

Charles Mills can be reached at or by phone at 618-510-9226 or 217-347-7151 ext. 300126.

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Charles Mills is reporter and videographer for the Effingham Daily News. A 1983 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, he worked as senior video editor for a Nashville television station. He is a native of Vandalia.