Maintaining Vital Services in Newly Remodeled Space
“What would we do if we didn’t have the walk-in clinic in Newport?” Hal asked. “It gives us peace of mind knowing it’s here.”
Now retired, Hal and his wife, Karen, live in the Midwest and have a vacation home in South Beach. When they visit, the couple relies on the Samaritan Walk-in Clinic for care. Likewise, 77 area employers rely on the Samaritan Occupational Medicine Clinic in Newport to care for their workers.
A Temporary Solution
In 2009, Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital created the walk-in clinic primarily to help visitors and part-time residents, like Hal and Karen, as well as full-time residents who do not have primary care clinicians. The clinic acts as a bridge between the Emergency Department (ED) and primary care by responding to urgent medical issues while preserving the ED for medically defined emergencies; and by making referrals to primary care and specialists for ongoing care. The hospital also established the occupational medicine clinic to collaborate with area employers and state worker’s compensation divisions to provide services to employees.
A New Home
To provide a permanent home, the Pacific Communities Health District purchased a building on the corner of Highway 101 and SW Abbey Street (the old Apple Peddler building), pictured below. The Highway 101 frontage will make the clinics easier for patients to find, particularly patients unfamiliar with the community.
The building’s interior will be remodeled to include six exam rooms in the walk-in clinic (up from four in the current structure) and two in the occupational medicine clinic, plus a procedure room, and dedicated spaces for hearing tests as well as drug screening. These dedicated spaces are not available in the current structure.
Eventually, an X-ray unit will be installed so that patients can receive needed services right in the clinic rather than going to the hospital across the street. Blood draws for lab work will also take place on site, once again, to improve patient access. Additional exam rooms, screening areas and services will reduce wait times, minimize time away from work, enhance privacy and improve access to care in both clinics.
A Trusted Resource
Both the walk-in clinic and occupational medicine clinics have become trusted and invaluable health care resources. In 2019, the occupational medicine clinic treated 2,848 employed adults who primarily reside in Lincoln County. The clinic treats people who are injured on the job; provides routine testing needed for OSHA compliance; and performs physicals, immunizations, hearing tests, drug and alcohol screening, and respirator fit and blood testing for area employees.
In 2019, the Samaritan Walk-in Clinic provided primary medical care to 7,430 patients, with 21% over the age of 65; 17% ages 0 to 17; and 10% from communities of color. While most of those patients were local to Lincoln County, 18% came from out of the area. For example, our couple from the Midwest relied on the Samaritan Walk-in Clinic when Karen developed a fever and sore throat and when Hal experienced pain that he thought might be the result of an injured rotator cuff. Without the clinic, they would have gone to the Emergency Department, which is more costly for the patient and increases wait times for people with medically defined emergencies.
Because of the pandemic, fewer visitors are traveling to the area. In addition, residents are simply afraid to go to health care facilities, including clinics and the hospital, resulting in a decrease in patient visits. With the onset of this economic uncertainty, remodeling plans have been temporarily delayed. Because more than 70% of our patients are on Medicare or the Oregon Health Plan, which pays 40 to 50% of the actual cost of care, the walk-in clinic operates on thin margins, even in a busy year. As a nonprofit health care provider, Samaritan Health Services doesn’t turn anyone away for inability to pay or insurance type. We are committed to keeping this greatly needed resource in place for our patients.
Our community is fortunate to have the combined resources of the Pacific Communities Health District to bring health care to our residents and visitors. Once again, these organizations will unite to build healthier communities together. The Health District purchased the building while Samaritan and the PCHD Foundation will work together to provide the $2 million needed to remodel, furnish and equip the facility.
You Can Help Maintain These Vital Services
If you would like to help maintain vital services provided through the Samaritan Walk-in Clinic and Samaritan Occupational Medicine Clinic - Newport, make firstname.lastname@example.org or Karla Clem at email@example.com.