Vancouver Business Journal

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CenturyLink strengthens commitment to Clark County with gigabit service

CenturyLink strengthens commitment to Clark County with gigabit service

CenturyLink announced this week that broadband speeds up to 1 gigabit per second...

Marketing & the human element

Marketing & the human element

The world of marketing is abuzz with talk of metrics. A typical campaign might i...

Fort Vancouver National Trust announces “Dancing with the Local Stars” participants

Fort Vancouver National Trust announces “Dancing with the Local Stars” participants

The Fort Vancouver National Trust has unveiled the nine local community leaders ...

10 Things: Julie Kuni, Village Vineyard

10 Things: Julie Kuni, Village Vineyard

Here are 10 things we learned from our discussion with Julie Kuni of Village Vin...

Clark County rolls out video option for building inspections

Clark County rolls out video option for building inspections

Contractors, business owners, landlords and private homeowners now have the opti...

Women shaping Clark County’s law industry

Women shaping Clark County’s law industry

In an industry that has been historically male-dominated, Clark County has seen ...

Design & Construction

Tracking Vancouver’s new waterfront park

Tracking Vancouver’s new waterfront park

The redevelopment of the old Boise-Cascade Mill site in downtown Vancouver has long been a top priority for city leaders. And while the mixed-use project has the potential to be a game-changer for the city, the key to its success may very well lie at the water’s edge.

The 32-acre project will include one million square feet of office space and 250,000 square feet of retail space, including propos...

Marketing & Strategic Communication

Marketing & the human element

Marketing & the human element

The world of marketing is abuzz with talk of metrics. A typical campaign might incorporate search-engine optimization (SEO), automated lead generation and a quantified return-on-investment. The thought of people – not computers – designing all the elements of a publicity push can start to sound like a dream of the Mad Men era.

But in this age of analytics, the human element is still vital to even...

News Briefs

From the List: Commercial General Contractors

What are the largest commercial general contractors in Clark County? We ranked them by gross billings for 2013 originating from Clark County office locations.

Spotlight

Wall to Wall Stone Corp enjoying extraordinary growth

Wall to Wall Stone Corp enjoying extraordinary growth

Most business owners would be ecstatic if their companies grew 30 or 40 percent a year. One Vancouver company says it is growing at a rate of 100 percent a year and has been since 2008 when it was founded.

Wall to Wall Stone Corp., which began with four employees, is up to 93 now and hopes to employ more than 200 by next year. The fabricator and installer of stone for residential and commercial c...

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

How NOT to select a building design consultant

How NOT to select a building design consultant

A building construction project, whether for a new building, renovation, addition or repair, represents a significant fi...

Building “failures” and how to avoid them

Building “failures” and how to avoid them

The recent collapses of the I-5 Bridge over the Skagit River and the floor of the Vancouver Warehouse and Distribution C...

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