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What businesses can expect this tax season

What businesses can expect this tax season

The tax man cometh – and just exactly what that means this year depends on your ...

Gold’s Gym to open in former Nordstrom space at Westfield Vancouver Mall

Gold’s Gym to open in former Nordstrom space at Westfield Vancouver Mall

Westfield Vancouver today announced the addition of Gold’s Gym, scheduled to ope...

State, local marijuana retail stores suddenly

State, local marijuana retail stores suddenly "flush with product"

Washington’s recreational marijuana business has been up and running for about s...

Top tech trends for 2015

Top tech trends for 2015

Remember when a cloud was just a puff of white or gray in the sky? A file was ma...

Port commissioners approve Northwest Packing Co. lease extension

Port commissioners approve Northwest Packing Co. lease extension

Fruit processor Northwest Packing Co. will continue to call Southwest Washington...

Trust reveals plan for Academy renovations

Trust reveals plan for Academy renovations

Although officially it won’t be a done deal until late January when escrow close...

Accounting & Finance

What businesses can expect this tax season

What businesses can expect this tax season

The tax man cometh – and just exactly what that means this year depends on your business. For some, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will bring significant ramifications. For others, capitalization and repair rules are going to be a major concern. For businesses and CPAs alike, IRS response times could cause problems. In the following paragraphs, local CPAs share their expertise with VBJ readers to h...

Education & Workforce Development

Clark College expanding new Economic & Community Development Program

Clark College expanding new Economic & Community Development Program

While managing variables of supply and demand have been part of business culture for centuries, the concept has often been lost in terms of staffing and personnel development. Clark College’s Economic and Community Development Program (formerly Corporate and Continuing Education) looks to change that.

“The program really grew out of our contract learning projects. We saw a need and opportunity to...

News Briefs

Riverview, Heritage Bank report quarterly earnings

Vancouver-based Riverview Bancorp Inc. reported this week an income of $1.1 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, in the third fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2014. This compares to an income of $801,000, or $0.04 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2013.

Spotlight

Feasting on success

Feasting on success

Scarcely out of the shadow of their second year, Harvest owner Chef Tim McCusker has opened his second Camas-based restaurant, Feast@316. Considering 90 percent of new restaurants do not see their first anniversary, the renowned restaurant consultant is banking on his track record of culinary success.

Launching on New Year’s Eve, Feast@316, a steak and seafood house located in downtown Camas, ope...

Sluggish economy, sicker patients

It's not just the economy that's sick. According to healthcare professionals at several local urgent care clinics, Clark County's high unemployment rate is fostering a trend of healthcare procrastination.

It's not just the economy that's sick. According to healthcare professionals at several local urgent care clinics, Clark County's high unemployment rate is fostering a trend of healthcare procrastination.

Many colds and coughs can turn into something more serious, like bronchitis or pneumonia. But, if money is tight - or nonexistent - patients are often reluctant to visit a doctor's office.

"Many of our patients are in a desperate situation, and should have been looked at a month ago," stated Dean Barrus, owner of two Urgent Medical Centers, one at the corner of Fourth Plain Boulevard and Vancouver Mall Drive, the other in Salmon Creek.

Anna Axlund, office manager for the Fisher's Landing Urgent and Family Care Clinic, reported the same pattern, with fewer people coming in for coughs and colds - but more coming in for hospital stay follow-up treatment.

Making Care Affordable   

Barrus said his clinic tries to mitigate patients' healthcare expenses by offering a discounted cash rate and establishing a payment system for those who need it. But, he added, it's a juggling act to meet the needs of the poor but still be able to pay his own bills.

Efficiency in delivering care, in billing and in processing patients and data, said Barrus, is the key to this juggling act. Raelene Jarvis, clinical manager for Memorial Urgent Clinic on Main Street in Vancouver, also stated that efficiency is critical for a successful business.

"We're looking at our processes from A to Z, to determine which steps are vital, and which are redundant," Jarvis said, adding that not only does efficiency help keep costs down, but it also gives the patients what they really want: to come in, see the doctor and go home.

Washougal-based Columbia Gorge Medical Center, owned by nurse practitioner Sarah Russell, has another approach to making healthcare affordable for those who do not have insurance.

Russell, who bought the clinic from Urgent and Family Care owner Ron King last February, has instituted a Patient Assistance Program, which connects local nonprofits, businesses and churches with patients who need help in paying for healthcare.

"It looks a little different for each organization who participates," Russell said. "Some make a fixed donation each month, others commit to helping a set number of patients every year."

Patient Volume Still Growing

Waiting rooms at urgent care clinics across the county are busy. Axlund reported that her clinic treats 45 to 55 patients a day, with walk-ins experiencing an average wait-time of 20 to 45 minutes. Russell said that last year, she saw five to 10 patients per day - a number that has climbed this year to 18 to 24 per day.

Barrus said that his patient volume has grown about 10 percent over 2008, with 6 to 7 percent of that increase being made up of Medicare and DSHS patients. To accommodate this growth, Barrus' Fourth Plain clinic moved to a new location at the end of August, doubling their square footage to 10,000 square feet.

The new clinic, built by TEAM Construction, offers a digital X-ray system and a full complement of testing equipment for occupational medicine. Barrus has added one additional care provider and is currently interviewing for another open position.

Axlund stated that although her clinic reduced hours of operation due to the recession, they have added new staff to keep up with patient demand. Currently, the clinic employs two receptionists, two office managers, two medical assistants and three care providers. Russell added a second front desk person in September as well.

With the exception of Memorial, which makes no appointments, most clinics take a mixture of walk-ins and appointments for a mixture of urgent care and traditional family care.

Axlund said her group preferred appointments for those patients who wanted to establish a primary care relationship, but that for urgent health matters, walk-ins were always welcome. Russell stated that the great majority of her patients were scheduled, with only four to five walk-ins per day.

Flu Still a Threat

Urgent care professionals see a lot of flu patients, both the normal seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu. Although media coverage of H1N1 has dropped off considerably compared to a couple months ago, Jarvis cautioned that people shouldn't give up taking precautions against infection, such as washing one's hands. "All models, and our experience in the Southern Hemisphere, predict a second wave of H1N1," she said.

Barrus concurred, stating that his clinic had been "jam packed" on various days with flu patients, and that "we're not through it yet."

With Clark County's unemployment rate hovering around 13.7 percent, that could mean urgent care clinics may continue to see patients later, as well as sicker.

Opinion

Focus Column

Cashing in: How to plan for business succession in a recovering economy

Cashing in: How to plan for business succession in a recovering economy

When it comes to retirement in the United States, nothing hurt business owners more than the financial crisis of 2008.

R...

Now is the time for apprenticeships

Now is the time for apprenticeships

There is much talk of the “skills gap” – the widening space between the technical skills that employers need and the ski...

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