Grande Ronde Hospital took a giant step toward improving local health care access this summer, as it unveiled its Regional Medical Clinic on Fourth Street in La Grande.
built for comfort: Paul Shorb, left, and Carl Bond show off one of the 13 exam rooms in the clinic’s new wing. The rooms feature infrared radiant heat, call bells, and, in some cases, electric beds specially designed for patients with mobility problems. - The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
Four new physicians will join the clinic staff this fall, easing the community’s chronic shortage of medical professionals, said Paul Shorb, senior director of support services.
“We’ve got two doctors coming in August and two in September,” Shorb said. “Having the clinic helps us tremendously with recruitment.”
When fully built, the facility will include 31 exam rooms and four procedure rooms. Services offered will include family medicine, internal medicine and general surgery.
“With the addition of family practice, we’ll see the whole range of patients, from pediatrics to geriatrics,” said Mardi Ford, the hospital’s public information specialist.
Though the clinic is open and taking patients, it is a work in progress. The west end of the building is complete, with work still progressing on the other half.
For now, the clinic houses 13 exam rooms and two procedure rooms. There will be 18 additional exam rooms and two procedure rooms in the east end, plus a large, full-service laboratory.
“Once we have all the lab equipment in place, we’ll be able to do anything the hospital can do, with only a few exceptions,” said
Carl Bond, senior director of ancillary services.
All the patient treatment rooms are fully equipped. Infrared radiant heat comes from the ceilings; every third exam room has an electric bed specially designed for people with mobility problems; and call bells in each room and bathroom ensure that help is never far away.
“Everything’s designed with the patient’s comfort in mind,” said Ford.
The new clinic is an expansion of the building at 506 Fourth St. that formerly housed the Fourth Street Clinic. That facility, staffed by four doctors, had eight exam rooms, a procedure room and a small lab.
lines of communication: The clinic’s fiber-optic lines are a part of a high-tech system of communication between the clinic and Grande Ronde Hospital. - The Observer/BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH
The hospital bought the building and operated it as its internal medicine clinic. Later, plans were made to double the square footage and add services including family medicine.
The design phase got under way in early 2007, and ground was broken for the project that October. Early this month, the expanded clinic was up and running.
Patient intake and medical care and treatment is carried out on the ground floor. The second floor includes a combination break room and conference room, offices for doctors and medical coders, communication equipment, and access to the heating and cooling system.
At present, the hospital is working to complete an electronic records system to which the clinic will be tied. Shorb said the system will greatly streamline communication.
“If you were in the clinic yesterday and the hospital today, hopefully we won’t have to ask so many questions,” he said.
Bond added, “We’re wired to the hospital and can communicate effectively. When we have the full electronic record on line, a physician will be able to access it from just about anywhere.”
major expansion: The internal medicine clinic on Fourth Street underwent major changes this year, doubling in size, adding services including family practice and changing its name to Grande Ronde Hospital Regional Medical Clinic. - The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK
Also tied to the hospital via computer are the clinic’s heating and cooling, fire alarm, and security systems. On the clinic premises is a back-up generator that will keep electricity running through any emergency.
“In a power outage, we won’t have to send anybody home,” said Shorb.
Including the electronic records system, the entire expansion will take three years to complete, at a cost of about $3 million, Bond said. When operating at full steam, the clinic will employ about 25 people. In addition to physicians, the staff will include a nurse practitioner.
Bond said he is very happy with building progress to date.
“We’ve delivered the first half on time and probably under budget,” he said.