Residents help shape Duvall medical clinic
by Lisa Allen
Valley View Editor
DUVALLčResidents want the town's new medical clinic to be open extended hours, offer a variety of options and have a real presence in the community, Evergreen Healthcare officials were told during the first of two public meetings held last week at the fire station.
Evergreen scheduled the meetings so citizens would have the opportunity to say what they felt the community needs and would use in a new medical facility. The clinic will be built as part of the annexation into the hospital district which was approved by voters in the Nov. 7 general election.
But, although residents were eager to tell district officials what they feel is important in the creation of the new clinic, they were also disappointed to learn it will be at least a year before the facility is open for business.
"The reason for the wait is because the county assessor needs to research which properties will be included as part of the annexation into the hospital district," said Ben Lindekugel, Evergreen Director of Community Relations. "Because of that, property taxes for the clinic will not be collected until 2002."
But, he said, it will also take that long to plan the facility and obtain the permits.
"People say, 'they like Evergreen, to stop talking and start building'," Lindekugel said. "But we need to know the type of facility we need here. There is a lot that needs to be done. We are moving ahead and the dollars will be there when we need them. Our goal is to open early in 2002."
Property owners in the area can expect to be taxed about 39 cents per $1,000, or about $78 per year for a $200,000 house.
Lindekugel said an oversight group is working on the project, with executives, physicians and clinical services groups involved.
"There are a lot of different models of care," he said. "We want to make sure that what we build here is right for the community."
Evergreen officials still do not know whether the district will build a new facility or use an already existing building, but say it would obviously be quicker if an existing structure could be used.
"We don't know if existing space is appropriate or if we need to build," said consultant Lynn Cunningham. "It's not a simple answer."
Duvall Mayor Glen Kuntz came right to the point when he offered his opinion of what the town needs.
"Just pick up the urgent care facility in Woodinville and plunk it down here," he said. "That's just what is needed."
Riverview School Board member Laura Ritter added that people are anxious to get it finished and open.
"People just want it done," she said. Ritter's husband Ted, a registered nurse-practitioner, was the town's only medical provider for 13 years until Medalia bought the practice in the mid 1990s. Medalia closed the clinic over two years ago.
Concerns were also raised over whether the older community will accept new practitioners.
"The community will accept whoever comes if they trust them," said Ritter. "But they have to stay."
Resident Bob Fullmer suggested that the clinic start small, just to bring it into the community, and move to larger quarters later. Citizens were divided as to whether the clinic should be located in "Old Town" or the newer part of Duvall, in the south end.
"The area around the new drugstore (in Old Town) would be good," said Fullmer. "Access is good and there is plenty of parking."
Fire District 45 commissioner Sandy Rowe agreed with Fullmer that it "would be nice to see the clinic up and running and expand later."
The general consensus among residents was that a clinic should have at least two doctors, room for expansion, an exam room, diagnostic (lab and X-ray) facilities and "urgent care" as opposed to emergency care (provided by hospitals).
Cunningham said it is important to clarify the terms "urgent" and "emergency" care.
"An emergency is danger to life and limb," she said. "Urgent means something that needs to be taken care of within 24 hours."
Rowe said weekends are often times that urgent care is needed.
"People go up on their roofs to do repairs, and end up falling, or get hurt playing baseball," she said. "We would like to see the clinic open six days a week."
Residents also said that classes would help the practice keep a presence in the community. Evergreen offers a variety of classes as part of their outreach program.
Other suggestions included the availability of a consulting nurse service, physician referrals to non-traditional therapies, support groups, preventive care, immunizations and visits from specialists.
Evergreen Healthcare is also seeking two representatives from the community to sit on an advisory group on health care issues. Those interested should call Linda Carroll at (425) 899-2022 for an information packet.