Pair opens health clinic in renovated Valley space
Physician assistant-owned center sets longer sessionsJanuary 16th, 2014
A physician assistant-owned medical clinic recently opened in the Spokane Valley under the name Optimal Healthcare Inc.
Physician assistant Kevin Bichler and his wife, Janice Jordan-Bichler, are the owners of the general medicine and family medicine clinic, located at 12418 E. Saltese, near Pines Road and 16th Avenue.
The clinic also sees patients for minor procedures, physicals, Labor & Industries case care, and sexual assault examinations.
Both Bichler and Jordan-Bichler, who is a nurse and plans soon to recertify as a physician assistant, previously worked for Community Health Association of Spokane. At CHAS, Bichler was employed as a physician assistant, and Jordan-Bichler was vice president of operations.
Bichler and Jordan-Bichler say they bought the 1,500-square-foot building on Saltese in July for $179,000, and they handled renovations with help from friends at a cost of roughly $40,000. The facility has five exam rooms and previously housed a dental practice, but has been vacant for about seven years, they say.
Jordan-Bichler says the clinic also works on contract with Dr. James Mullen, who is the clinic’s supervising physician to help review cases. Mullen works at Franklin Park Urgent Care, at 5904 N. Division, but also plans soon to start seeing patients one day a week at Optimal, she says.
She says the state of Washington, through the Department of Health, requires that physician assistants be under the supervision of a physician who reviews charts and provides consultations.
“For us, he’s available by phone or the Internet,” Jordan-Bichler adds. “We do all our own prescribing. We’re under a supervising agreement with the Department of Health, and the doctor is available for consultation and questions.”
Jordan-Bichler says the couple decided to open a clinic that would allow for longer appointments with patients and getting to know all of their medical concerns. The two of them and one medical assistant are currently the only employees, but the clinic is in the process of hiring a receptionist.
“Kevin and I were both disappointed in the way health care is going, pushing people through with 15-minute appointments,” she says. “We said, ‘Why don’t we just take fewer patients?’ We won’t get wealthy with this model, but we want people to come in and give them enough time and really discuss their health issues.”
She adds, “We really want to see a patient as a whole person, that they have family, and what makes them who they are.”
She says the clinic is offering new patients a one-hour appointment to get to know them. The clinic also offers flexible appointment times, such as in the evenings, she adds.
Bichler says he has noticed concerns among both providers and patients about limited time to discuss health care issues, so the couple decided to go in another direction.
“The concept is such a novel idea as far as people are frustrated about getting pushed through the health care system, getting in and out, and only being able to address one issue,” he says. “You talk to a lot of providers and patients, and people are unhappy about the way health care is going.”
He adds, “We’ll probably keep it down to about 15 patients a day for myself, that’s a good number. We’ve talked about expanding eventually to run another clinic. I think we just have to get the word out there.”
Jordan-Bichler says the clinic accepts a number of health insurance plans, and is working to secure agreements with others.