Sky Lakes Cuts Ribbon for Collaborative Health Center

This article was in Friday’s (December 13th, 2019) Herald and News 
Written By: Frankie Benitez, H&N Staff Reporter 

The completion of the long-term project is a testament to the partnership between OHSU and Sky Lakes, said Paul Stewart, the medical center’s president and chief operating officer.

“This is a monumental milestone on a several-years journey,” Stewart said. “The collaboration among institutions to try to bring together higher education and healthcare in the rural community and recognizes the power of partnerships and shared visions to make long-term investments for a brighter future for health care in this region.”

Stewart pointed out the investment the facility required.

“Perhaps even the largest single capital investment in any industry, but it’s certainly the largest in healthcare,” Stewart said. “This investment, in fact, in dollars and cents dwarfs the original construction of the hospital in 1965. Even when you roll those dollars forward to 2019,” he said, referring to the hospital located across the parking lot from the new center.

Sky Lakes chairman of the board John Bell during a speech at the ceremony expressed his expectations for the facility.

“This building will be about more than brick and mortar. It’ll represent partnerships that strive to fulfill a common vision and represent a collaboration of healthcare,” Bell said.

The center’s top two floors will be the new home for Sky Lakes primary care clinics, which are currently located in five Klamath Falls facilities. The primary care clinics will open for patients in January.

Stewart pointed out potential benefits for patients now that primary care will be consolidated in one place.

“Having all Sky Lakes primary care providers in one clinic will enhance patient access to care by allowing cross-scheduling which increases the availability of practitioners and the ability for patients to access care on a more timely basis.”

Stewart also noted the building will have a drop-in clinic.

The facility will also have lab testing and diagnostic testing, as well access to a pharmacy, meaning patients will not have to go somewhere else for a referral. Stewart said this will help everyone involved in a patient’s care have open communication with each other and will save time for everyone.

“Ready access to support is impossible when providers who are scattered in different clinics blocks apart spend precious time playing phone tag,” Stewart said.

The five buildings previously used for primary care in Klamath Falls that Sky Lakes owns will be used for specialty care, such as neurology and dermatology, according to Stewart.

OHSU President Danny Jacobs said the building has enough room for Sky Lakes to increase its primary care doctors by 50%.

It’s not all about primary care, though, the center also provides plenty of room for OHSU programs and Cascades East Family Medicine — a residency program operated in collaboration between Sky Lakes and OHSU — to grow as well.

“We are thrilled (about) the state of the art health center for not only increased collaboration between Sky Lakes providers and OHSU faculty members, but it will also be the new home for our campus for rural health, which brings the student learners from all over to rural Oregon so they can learn and practice community-focused healthcare,” Jacobs said.

“This building will be able to have physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, behavioral health providers, pharmacists and, hopefully soon, physical therapists all coming together to provide care side-by-side as we work with patients,” said Cascades East Program Director {span}Joyce Hollander-Rodriguez{/span}.

“We’ll be training the next generation of healthcare professionals in this collaborative model and will be training our learners to see that community matters in health,” she said.

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