Vancouver Business Journal

Sat04192014

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Trust, Park Service fail to reach agreement on Pearson Air Museum

Trust, Park Service fail to reach agreement on Pearson Air Museum

Several months after having entered into formal mediation talks to discuss issue...

Riverview Community Bank celebrates regulatory decision

Riverview Community Bank celebrates regulatory decision

Officials at Riverview Community Bank are moving forward with confidence knowing...

Commercial development: Building for tomorrow

Commercial development: Building for tomorrow

If commercial developers feel like circus performers walking a tightrope, there ...

 Business Growth Award finalists announced

Business Growth Award finalists announced

14 businesses have been named finalists for the Vancouver Business Journal's 201...

Is Food Processing part of Port “Comprehensive Scheme”?

Is Food Processing part of Port “Comprehensive Scheme”?

The leaders of a Clark County food processing company will bring their efforts t...

Developers cautious but developing

Developers cautious but developing

Although the Great Recession is behind us, many businesses and individuals are s...

Design & Construction

Commercial development: Building for tomorrow

Commercial development: Building for tomorrow

If commercial developers feel like circus performers walking a tightrope, there is good reason.

Limited financing, escalating regulatory and raw material costs, and still-low property valuations make penciling out a project difficult. And yet, workforce trends and emerging technologies demand designs that look to the future.

Build to the budget

According to Ron Frederiksen, president of RSV Bui...

Innovation & Manufacturing

Southwest Washington keeps its focus on manufacturing

Southwest Washington keeps its focus on manufacturing

Southwest Washington boasts a number of regional factors that are beneficial to the local economy. Among them are access to clean water, affordable power and a skilled workforce. These factors have continued to drive the local manufacturing industry in 2014 – an industry that was one of the first to convincingly move forward out of the recession.

“Advanced manufacturing aligns with both our Orego...

News Briefs

CREDC seeks health care startups to participate in “Shark Tank”

The Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) is accepting applications from startups related to the health care sector interested in participating in Clark County PubTalk’s annual business pitch competition on Tuesday, June 17.

Spotlight

Audio Fox: A sound solution

Audio Fox: A sound solution

Like a lot of small businesses, Vancouver-based Sound Product Solutions started with a problem. Several years into retirement, Rex Clark was experiencing hearing loss – and he wasn’t the only one affected by that change.

“We had some disagreements, me and my wife, about where the volume should be on the TV,” said Rex. He remembered similar struggles between his own parents, but the best solution ...

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

Innovating innovation

Innovating innovation

If you want to attract innovation, you need to be innovative. The Clark County Economic Development plan, which guides t...

You can thrive without reinventing the wheel

You can thrive without reinventing the wheel

Every day the media bombards us with headlines of doomsday for American manufacturers. We read how competition is stiff,...

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