ARLINGTON — The Cascade Valley Hospital has had a new neighbor since Monday, Aug. 12, when the newest branch of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County opened its doors at 326 S. Stillaguamish Ave. in Arlington to serve uninsured, under-insured and under-served patients throughout the local area.
Lisa Miller underscored the relative scarcity of resources for such patients by noting that many of the same patients whom she saw as the practice manager for the CHC’s Broadway clinic in Everett have met her again as the assistant director of operations at the CHC’s new clinic in Arlington.
“So many of the patients that I saw down there actually live up here, so they were having to commute from Arlington and even Darrington just to get health care,” Miller said. “We’ve received so many welcomes from this community, from the city and the fire department to the hospital and other area health care organizations. It’s not an easy thing for less-privileged patients to navigate the health care system.”
The 10,458-square-foot clinic’s in-house services include primary care for all ages, behavioral health and dental for all ages, although Miller acknowledged that it’s relying on a referral network in place of on-site specialists, and while it’s slated to host its own pharmacy, that’s not expected to arrive until January.
“Certain services depend on our patient population, so for on-site specialists, we’ll probably have to wait until the visits to this clinic increase,” Miller said. “And our 403(b) status allows us to price our services at a lower cost than retail, but you have to be a patient of the Community Health Center, and not be seeing anyone else for your primary care.”
Patients have access to all of the Community Health Centers of Snohomish County’s services, and can be referred to coordinators for special types of health care.
“We work with the uninsured and under-insured on a one-on-one basis,” Miller said. “Right now, we have two MDs, and we’re looking to recruit an RN.”
One overlooked feature of the CHC’s Arlington branch that Miller loves is its location, directly north of the Cascade Valley Hospital on S. Stillaguamish Avenue and right next to the bus stop.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better place,” Miller said. “Almost everyone knows where the hospital is, and can get here by bus.”
The interior of the former Cascade Medical Center facility, which now houses the CHC’s Arlington clinic, was renovated to create a more natural and efficient flow of patient care.
“We’ve got nice big exam rooms and a nice big procedure room, so our patients will be comfortable while they’re here,” Miller said. “Referrals can be an obstacle if you’re uninsured or under-insured, since you’re required to pay out of pocket if you don’t have insurance, but we will work with those patients, and are willing to take payments.”
“The numbers of retired people and working poor who face these obstacles every day are continuing to extend upward,” said Dr. Steve Aguila, of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County in Arlington. “To make these medical services work, we have a staff of wonderful, dedicated people who help me take care of these patients.”
Miller added that the capacity of the CHC’s Arlington medical clinic is currently 20-25 patients per day, and expects an increasing demand on the clinic’s services, especially as the Affordable Care Act takes effect.
“We’re looking into offering education sessions on the ACA for our patients and the community,” Miller said. “In the meantime, the Medicaid expansion has us in the same learning stages as everyone else. We’d just hate to see so many of our qualifying patients miss out on this opportunity.”
The medical clinic of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County in Arlington is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Mondays through Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays, and you can call 360-572-5400 to schedule appointments. Its dental clinic is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, and you call 360-572-5430 to schedule appointments.