Vancouver Business Journal

Tue09022014

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New study examines economic impact of Vancouver Energy project

New study examines economic impact of Vancouver Energy project

A new report that estimates the short- and long-term socioeconomic impact of the...

Survey: ‘Likely voters’ approve of proposed crude oil facility

Survey: ‘Likely voters’ approve of proposed crude oil facility

A pair of surveys conducted in June by Portland-based DHM Research related to th...

Care providers ‘all in’ on infrastructure improvements

Care providers ‘all in’ on infrastructure improvements

Across Southwest Washington, healthcare providers are making significant capital...

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 l...

Nutter Corp. to install utilities at Vancouver waterfront

Nutter Corp. to install utilities at Vancouver waterfront

Nutter Corporation has been authorized by the Port of Vancouver to make stormwat...

Northwest Grain Handlers, ILWU reach tentative agreement

Northwest Grain Handlers, ILWU reach tentative agreement

A two-year long dispute and eventual work stoppage over workplace rules between ...

Accounting & Finance

Getting money from the crowd

Getting money from the crowd

Crowdfunding is defined as the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. In 2013, according to Forbes, the crowdfunding industry grew to be over $5.1 billion worldwide. Southwest Washington entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to crowdfunding to launch their ideas.

Easier access to money

Crowdfunding is...

Health Care & Hospitals

Care providers ‘all in’ on infrastructure improvements

Care providers ‘all in’ on infrastructure improvements

Across Southwest Washington, healthcare providers are making significant capital investments in infrastructure, in response to an increased number of patients (due the Affordable Care Act) and growing pressure for interoperability and integration among healthcare providers.

According to Ryan Ball, Peacehealth’s chief information officer, Peacehealth is in the midst of the second-largest capital i...

News Briefs

Local schools to benefit from $4 million STEM investment

Washington STEM, a statewide nonprofit advancing excellence, equity and innovation in STEM education, announced this week nearly $4 million in investments to regionally-based programs aimed at improving teaching and learning of science, engineering, technology and math across Washington state.

Spotlight

Clients flocking to The Tummy Team in Camas

Clients flocking to The Tummy Team in Camas

What began as a personal quest for Kelly Dean, owner of Camas-based The Tummy Team, has become a successful business venture and an opportunity to help heal thousands of people afflicted with the same injury she suffered from.

“I’ve been a physical therapist for over 15 years and I had three kids and my stomach kind of blew apart after my kiddos. I was told I could only have surgery,” Dean said. ...

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

The sweeping change in finance

The sweeping change in finance

There are big changes afoot in finance. The back office and middle office are moving forward by creating value for the b...

Succession planning starts with a trusted advisor

Succession planning starts with a trusted advisor

As baby boomers retire, a large gap exists across the business spectrum for finding the next generation of leaders withi...

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