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A new design for local care

Hospital news | Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Contact: Mardi Ford

News about the Grande Ronde Hospital Regional Medical Clinic expansion.

Recruiting new physicians to Eastern Oregon requires prudence, vision and a certain amount of courage—courage to believe that if we build it, they will come.
“Build what?” you may ask.
The answer to that question is also the answer to what our community needs and what medical professionals want: an expanded Grande Ronde Hospital Regional Medical Clinic.
One of the changes in the health care industry is that next-generation physicians no longer embrace the dream of hanging out their own shingles as their predecessors did.
“Interviewing physicians, we’ve discovered the model is changing. The majority of them aren’t interested in private practice—they want to be employed physicians,” explains Paul Shorb, the senior director of support services at Grande Ronde Hospital, who oversees physician recruitment.

Making room for more care
“We knew the community didn’t have the capacity for more physicians,” Shorb says. “And we knew adding enough room for just a couple of new physicians wasn’t going to be enough.”
Shorb says, thanks to the expansion, the clinic will now easily handle up to 15full-time physicians.The hospital has now employed a general surgeon, two internists and a family practitioner to join the clinic’s existing medical staff of four internists and a family nurse practitioner.

Plans with you in mind
Planning for the project began in early 2007, Carl Bond says, and construction began on the new section that October. Bond is the senior director of clinical services for the hospital and has been a key player in the $3 million project.
“I’d say it’s a little over half complete,” he says. “And the first half came in under budget, so that’s good.”
The timeline for project completion, he estimates, is January 2009.Everything about the new clinic was deliberated over and designed with patient access, privacy and comfort in mind—the soothing, light-filled waiting areas; the overhead radiant heat in exam rooms; the electric exam tables that lower for an easier hop onto the table; heated instrument trays and drawers to warm those stainless steel tools; and assistance call buttons in the exam rooms and restrooms.
Even the new electronic medical records (EMR) system has the patient in mind, streamlining communication and making it more efficient for physicians to monitor their patients. Studies have shown that EMR systems also minimize costly record errors and duplication. Installing a contemporary EMR system provides additional recruitment leverage.
“Most, if not all, new physicians have used or are using EMR,” Shorb says.

No. 1 priority
Clinic manager Donna Louden has worked at the clinic on Fourth Street since the early 1990s. The biggest thrill for her is making appointments for new patients to see new physicians.
“All along, the No. 1 priority for this expansion, in everyone’s mind, has been to serve the community—to meet the need,” Louden says.“The need is so desperate here.”