Though she’s just 58, dermatologist Claire Haycox wanted to create a legacy with her practice, Valley Dermatology. That’s why earlier this year she approached Harrison Health Partners of Bremerton to purchase her practice and become its employee for the next several years.
After a stint on the University of Washington faculty, she came to the peninsula with Virginia Mason Medical Center 14 years ago for its rural lifestyle, reminiscent of what she’d grown up around in England. When Virginia Mason pulled out, she established Valley Dermatology in 2002 in Sequim. Accustomed to seeing 40 patients per day and with aging parents back in England, Haycox began thinking of retiring from her booming, if not fulfilling, practice.
“I had been running a very successful practice and about three years ago I started thinking about a succession plan,” Haycox said.
“I see about 140 patients a week and Dan Walkowski, my physician assistant, sees about 100, so it’s an extremely busy practice. So I began thinking of when I won’t want to work full time. I’m also becoming increasingly frustrated with the administrative side with all the changes as a solo owner — they’re extremely onerous and will continue to be more onerous.”
Haycox said she first approached Olympic Medical Center two years ago and was met with enthusiasm. “But it just fizzled. The impressive thing about Harrison is they’ve done everything they said they would do when they said they would do it. It’s just a very professional group.”
The transition was made official on Oct. 1 when Valley Dermatology became Harrison Health Partners Dermatology — Sequim.
“Harrison Medical Center is a tertiary hospital, which is not true for OMC or Jefferson Healthcare, and I really like the idea that patients can get all their health care through one facility on the peninsula,” Haycox said.
“I hope and expect to see a larger force of Harrison Health Partners in Sequim.”
Haycox said the purchase ensures that the practice will continue to “provide quality dermatological care into the future with great dermatologists.
“My primary concern is that my patients get good care and access to good care and as well a future for my 11 employees. I’ll continue to work a few years while we recruit two dermatologists and another PA-C and I will be very involved in that for a good fit,” she said.
“Then after a couple of years, I’ll move on, knowing that state-of-the-art dermatology care continues in the whole valley.”
Haycox said Sequim is a surprising area for the numbers of skin cancers there are and noted that Washington has one of the highest skin cancer numbers in the nation.
Four years ago she invested in equipment to be able to do Mohs micrographic surgery, which allows her to examine a frozen section of tissue in real time and determine whether all the cancer is gone or not.
If not, she goes deeper and wider into the tissue so she can be confident the cancer is removed. Haycox said she spends at least one day a week in surgery.
“I always knew I wanted to be a doctor and realized dermatology was just where I needed to be. I felt like I found my people.”