Spokane Journal of Business

A fast expansion of rapid-care health services in Spokane

Providence, MultiCare plan more same-day clinics here

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-—LeAnn Bjerken
Registered nurse Teri Etherton is the practice manager at the first Providence Express Care Clinic, which opened earlier this year on Spokane’s South Hill.

Spokane’s biggest health care providers are adding rapid-care clinics in the Spokane market, well, rapidly. 

Providence Health Care has opened one such clinic in the Spokane area, called Providence Express Care Clinic, and has plans to open three more this year. MultiCare Health System currently has five MultiCare Rockwood Clinic Urgent Care centers in the Spokane area, but says it plans to expand its urgent care services by adding three Indigo-branded Urgent Care clinics this year.

Dr. Michael Ravelo is the medical director for Providence Health’s first Spokane-based Express Care Clinic, which opened in January at 2923 E. 29th, in the Lincoln Heights shopping center on Spokane’s South Hill. He says the 1,600-square-foot clinic has about 14 employees and is designed to serve patients who need to see a provider right away, but don’t necessarily need the same level of care provided by an urgent care center or hospital emergency room.

“What sets us apart is our ability to see patients on a same-day basis,” says Ravelo. “We provide access for those whose conditions don’t necessitate emergency care—things like cold or flu symptoms, skin conditions, and simple screenings.”

Ravelo says conditions that would be better handled at urgent care rather than express care would include severe burns, bleeding requiring stitches, possible sprains or broken bones that require imaging to diagnose, and some of the more comprehensive lab tests, procedures, or vaccines.

For Express Care, he says patients can walk in without an appointment or schedule one online, and the clinic is designed for individuals to be seen at their allotted time and be out the door again in about 20 minutes.

Officials with Spokane’s other major health care provider, MultiCare Health System, say it too has been working to establish new rapid-care style clinics in the Spokane area and improve its virtual service options.

Dr. Mark Mariani, MultiCare’s physician executive for retail health and strategic partnerships and his colleague Kirsten Saint Clair, executive director of MultiCare Urgent Care, are two Puget Sound-based officials who are familiar with the company’s plans for its newest clinic model, Indigo Urgent Care.

The two say that since Tacoma-based MultiCare took over ownership of Rockwood Health System last July, the provider has been listening to feedback from the Spokane community to better determine patients’ needs.

“We’ve found the biggest thing people want is access to quality care that’s delivered by empathetic individuals who value the patients’ time,” Mariani says. “That’s especially true during busier times of the year like back to school and the winter cold and flu seasons.”

Saint Clair says MultiCare’s Indigo Urgent Care clinics are considered ideal for targeting patients that fall within that demographic.

“People who have a lot of demands on their time need those options,” she says. “They want services that can help in those unexpected times when you need to see someone but can’t otherwise make an appointment.”

She says Indigo clinics offer both scheduled and walk-in appointments, and MultiCare’s My Record system makes it easy to store and access patient information, so future appointments can be arranged more quickly.

Providence’s Ravelo says another way in which Providence Express Care clinics differ from other clinics, is in their ability to provide care at a lower cost.

“If a patient has to visit urgent care or the emergency room, their cost will be higher,” he says. “This is low-cost, with most care being covered by insurance or a minimal co-pay.” 

Providence’s Express Care clinic has a service menu posted on one wall that lists basic costs including; $149 for a caregiver visit, $50 for a sports or school physical, tests and screenings that range between $9 and $60, and vaccines and other procedures ranging between $19 and $90. 

The clinic’s walls also list information about Providence Health’s other services, highlighting the differences between its virtual service offerings, and services offered at its Express Care, Urgent Care, and Primary Care clinics.

“The goal is to make sure the patient population is informed, so they can make the right choice of where to go for what symptoms,” says Ravelo.

Although the express clinic does take walk-ins, he says patients are encouraged to schedule an appointment by phone or online, in order to leave openings available for others who may need the clinic’s services unexpectedly.

“Some issues are better served by going to your primary care physician or emergency care services, so it’s important to remember to use the location that best matches your needs,” he says.

With Providence’s MyChart software, Ravelo says a patient’s visit summary, as well as lab and test results, also can be passed on to their primary care physician, or care teams at other clinics.

“If we determine a patient needs a higher level of care, we’re able to refer them to their primary care physician or transfer them safely to an urgent care or emergency facility,” he says. “Electronic records help us to complete that circle of total care, ensuring the patient’s needs are met and costs are kept to a minimum.”

Providence currently has 34 Express Care clinics in Washington and Oregon, including some that are embedded within Walgreens pharmacies. Providence reports that its Lincoln Heights clinic sees between 20 and 30 patients every day.

Ravelo says Providence plans to open three more Express Care Clinics here this year but is still determining which sites would best accommodate those facilities. 

“One location is planned for Spokane Valley, and another for North Spokane, perhaps in the Wandermere area,” he says. “We have some ideas for a third location as well, but we’re still investigating all our options.”

Looking ahead, Ravelo says Providence plans to work to accommodate more types of care that fall within the realm of same-day options, such as workforce labor and injury cases.

Sunita Mishra, Providence’s Renton, Wash.-based vice president of Express Care and Consumer Innovation, describes Express Care as offering “…health care on the patient’s terms—convenient care and the right care at the right time.”

Mishra says Providence has also combined its Express Care clinic, virtual, and primary care appointment services into one online application called Providence Health. The application is available to all of its patients throughout Washington and Oregon.

 “We want to improve our online experience so that is it is as easy as Google and continue to bring care closer to our patients,” Mishra says.

MultiCare’s Mariani says 16 Indigo Urgent Care clinics have been established in the Puget Sound area within the last two years.

Mariani says MultiCare now plans to expand its Indigo Urgent Care clinics to the Spokane region with the first clinic planned to open later this summer or early this fall, at a yet-to-be determined north Spokane location.

The facility, which is planned to be just under 6,000 square feet, will combine urgent care with occupational medicine services and is expected to employ between 15 and 20 people.

Mariani says, “The name Indigo itself is a play on the phrase ‘Individuals on the go,’” he says. “Each clinic is focused on delivering friendly, quick, and empathetic care to each visiting patient.”

MultiCare’s Indigo Urgent Care clinics provide services similar to those offered at Providence’s Express Care clinics. The services include treatment of cold and flu symptoms, earaches, fevers, minor burns or bruises, minor fractures or sprains, rash or poison ivy, sore throat, skin complaints, school and sports physicals, minor allergic reactions, and urinary tract infections. 

Mariani and Saint Clair say the services offered at Indigo Urgent Care clinics will be based on the needs of the areas they’ll be serving, and in some cases, such as in Spokane’s first Indigo clinic, that may include occupational medicine.

Once the first Indigo Urgent Care clinic has been established, Mariani and Saint Clair say more clinics soon will follow, likely at sites elsewhere in Spokane and Spokane Valley, although their exact locations are still to be determined.  

Also, Mariani and Saint Clair say MultiCare currently provides virtual care and e-visits to its Spokane patients and is in discussions to expand here its portfolio of telemedicine programs already available to Puget Sound patients. Those services would include access to such things as virtual OB, primary care, and psychiatry services.

LeAnn Bjerken
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Reporter LeAnn Bjerken is the most recent addition to the Journal's news team. A poet, cat lover and antique enthusiast, LeAnn is also an Eastern Washington University alum.

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