Summit Pacific Medical Center hosts Wellness Center town hall meeting

Her vision is to, “build the healthiest community in the nation.” Thats’ what Summit Pacific CEO Renee Jensen told residents of Grays Harbor County who attended Summit Pacific’s informational meeting on the upcoming Wellness Center on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

According to Jensen, Grays Harbor County residents die three years sooner than those in any other county in the state. The county also ranks 38 out of 39 in the state in health factors, including healthy behaviors and social determinants of health and physical environment. Jensen and Summit Pacific believe that counteracting the statistics above will require a focus on disease prevention, rather than just on diagnosis. Jensen notes, “What if we can engage our community before they are sick?”

The Wellness Center has come to fruition based on the community’s genuine need for healthcare. Some of those needs and requirements for adequate healthcare were addressed by Jensen at the meeting. The lack of provider access in the county was the first concern brought to attention, followed by how Summit Pacific Medical Center has run out of space to grow in primary care. Jensen said the Wellness Center will address this issue, as it will allow for additional primary care physicians and additional service lines such as procedures, pediatrics and therapy.

The 60,000 square foot facility will be comprised of three levels, each with a different focus. The first level will have therapy services and will be home to the support staff. Level two will house education rooms, a café, labs for radiology and imaging as well as a pharmacy. Healthcare providers, including a mental healthcare provider, will be located on level three. Jensen explained that some providers will be relocated from Summit Pacific, where room is scarce, to the Wellness Center. This will also allow for more specialists to populate Summit Pacific. This additional space, Jensen said, “will increase revenue due to expanded service lines and additional capacity to care for the community.”

Aside from the aspect of increased space, Jensen also hopes the new facility will attract physicians to the area. She explained that the lengthy 18 month process of hiring a physician in Grays Harbor County could be made more manageable with an attraction like a brand new Wellness Center.

The focus on prevention and education means that the Wellness Center will be dedicated to educating the community’s youth as to healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Jensen says the center will, “look to engage our children in a meaningful way.” Along with programs and education taking place on the second floor, upon completion of the project the children of Grays Harbor County will have access to a covered play area as well as a rock climbing wall.

Along with implementing innovative methods for caring for the community, the Wellness Center will use that same innovation in addressing payment models.

“Healthcare is shifting from volume-based payment to quality-based payments,” Jensen said. Quality-based treatments go hand-in-hand with the Wellness Center’s goal of disease prevention, as payment is awarded in respect to the quality of the care as opposed to the frequency of the care.

The project is projected to cost anywhere from $24-27 million, and a USDA loan is being sought for the development. If funding is received, the loan will be paid for by revenue from operations, current and future, meaning there will be no tax levied to pay for construction.

While its currently in the stage of securing financing, it is hoped that the project will have moved forward enough by May or June to begin groundbreaking on the Wellness Center, which will have a more personable name prior to its opening, Jensen says.

If this timeline is adhered to, Summit Pacific looks to open the facility in June or July of 2018. Jensen and Summit Pacific hope that this project will, “create a culture of community pride around health and wellness.”

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