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Low-income medical clinic opens in old ER at Providence

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and Molina Healthcare plan to offer better access to medical care for low-income families.

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EVERETT -- Low-income adults and families who haven't been able to get regular medical care are about to get some help.
A new nonprofit medical clinic is opening today in Everett that will be able to serve up to 1,500 children and adults.
Initially the clinic, Providence Medical Group Pacific, will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday on the Pacific campus of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Those hours could expand as the number of patients it serves grows, said Dr. Tom Yetman, physician chief executive of Providence Medical Group.
"We still have a large population of folks who have trouble accessing health care, worrying about how to get care and utilizing emergency rooms because they don't know where to go," Yetman said.
In addition to basic health care, the clinic's goal is to better coordinate patient care. This includes helping patients get appointments with medical specialists, and finding where patients with mental health or drug and alcohol problems can get help.
"It's a model that provides better care, better outcomes and lower costs," Yetman said.
To accomplish this goal, the clinic is being run as a joint project between Providence and Molina Healthcare.
"This is the first time we've done anything like this," said Glen Bogner, president of Molina Healthcare of Washington.
Molina runs medical clinics, including two in Everett. It also provides a health maintenance organization for 410,000 Medicaid patients in Washington, including 30,000 in Snohomish County.
The new clinic is opening on the first floor of the main Pacific campus building, space that for nearly seven decades was used as an emergency room.
That emergency room closed in June of last year, when the hospital's new emergency room opened in its $460 million medical tower at its Colby campus.
Since then, the space in Pacific Avenue emergency room has remained empty.
Planning for the new clinic has been under way nearly from the time the emergency room closed.
The clinic will help fill the medical needs of people who need medical care, but haven't had a doctor. They either didn't get care or ended up in the emergency room, Yetman said.
For years, the hospital's Pacific Avenue emergency room had high number of low income and uninsured patients, he said.
With nearby bus lines, the clinic will provide good access for people who rely on buses for transportation, he said.
The clinic will have 4,800 square feet of space and seven exam rooms. Providence spent about $95,000 to remodel the former emergency room space.
Dr. Chiyang Wu, who previously worked at Providence's Mill Creek Commons clinic, will be the clinic's physician.
This is the second nonprofit medical clinic that Providence has opened in Everett. Providence Everett Healthcare Clinic opened in 2004, across Broadway from Everett Community College. It now serves 5,600 patients.
Although Providence's two nonprofit clinics are only a couple miles apart, Yetman said he doesn't think there will be any problem finding patients for the new clinic.
Several thousand Medicaid patients live in the ZIP codes surrounding the clinic. "There are still a lot of people in that neighborhood that need primary care," he said.
National studies show that better coordination of patient care can improve health while saving money, resulting in fewer unnecessary trips to the emergency room, unneeded unnecessary hospital admissions and readmissions, Yetman said.
For example, in a recent study Group Health of Washington reported that it was able to cut emergency room visits by 29 percent and hospitalizations by 11 percent though better coordination of patient care.
Medical care provided in emergency rooms are far more costly than a visit to a medical clinic.
Providence is one of three nonprofit organizations that also have medical clinics in Snohomish County.
The Community Health Center of Snohomish County serves more than 37,000 patients though its clinics in Everett, Edmonds, and Lynnwood.
SeaMar's medical clinics in Marysville, Monroe and Everett serve more than 7,000 patients.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486;
New clinic opens today
A new nonprofit medical clinic, Providence Medical Group Pacific, is opening today at 916 Pacific Ave.
The clinic is open to any patient but primarily will serve Medicaid, uninsured and low-income patients.
It will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 425-258-7950 for an appointment.
The clinic is on the Pacific campus of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

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