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As clinic grows, so do funding needs

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by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette

It takes dozens of volunteers to make the Dungeness Health & Wellness Clinic work.

 

That includes Dr. Kari Olsen, a family practice physician who regularly lends her time and expertise to the clinic.

 

Her wide range of knowledge comes in handy. “We see everything,” she said. “It’s basically taking care of people who don’t have insurance.”

 

That’s a lot of people, Olsen said. “One of the surprising things is that a lot of people we see are young working people who don’t have insurance.”

 

The clinic’s intake statistics reflect those numbers: 75 percent of the clinic’s patients are under the age of 50, 85 percent have no doctor and 94 percent have no health insurance.

 

In addition to examinations, there are large numbers of people who require medication.

 

“That’s oftentimes a huge issue,” Olsen said. She noted that Walmart now provides a number of medicines for $4 a month, saying, “That helps an awful lot. But when medicines can’t be gotten that way, we work with the drug company.”

 

Olsen also had good words for Olympic Medical Center for its help in providing the uninsured with care. “The hospital is extremely generous,” she said.

 

Clinic board president Dick Hughes agreed, saying in 2011 OMC provided the clinic with $105,000 in services, including X-rays and clinical tests.

 

As a result of all of this help, “every one dollar donated to the clinic yields $3.67 in services,” Hughes said.
In 2011, the clinic provided approximately $560,000 in medical services to 1,100 members of the community.

Patient visits on the rise

The demand continues to grow. Board member Dave Mattingley provided the statistics, saying that the number of patients seeking urgent care rose from 1,099 in 2009 to 1,247 in 2010, to 1,262 in 2011.

In 2012, “We’re on track to exceed that.”

 

The number of patients seen by the Chronic Health Care Clinic has risen at an even faster pace, with 586 visits in 2009 and 872 in 2011.

 

John Beitzel, who for three years served the clinic as its volunteer executive director, and prior to that as a board member, said use of the clinic grew rapidly from the start. In its second year, the Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness Clinic saw 391 patients.

 

Eight years later, the clinic saw 2,200 patients.

 

A key to making the clinic work was expanding hours, Beitzel said. The clinic originally was open on one night a week to people with basic urgent care needs, then expanded to two nights. When the clinic added a chronic health care, by-appointment session during the day, it “opened up urgent care big time,” Beitzel said.

 

“The revenue stream is growing at the same rate,” he said. “I think the clinic’s sort of grown up.”

 

In addition to the Basic Urgent Care Clinics and the Chronic Health Clinics, DVH&WC provides health education classes for prevention and for self-management of chronic disease.

 

Hughes said the clinic also works with local dentists to purchase dental care “at a set price.” Patients receive vouchers and referrals to local dental providers for emergency care.

 

Hughes added, “The demand for dentistry is always more than we can afford.”

Join the Walk

Beitzel added that the clinic’s upcoming Fun Walk is the biggest single fundraising event of the year.

 

“Last year we had 211 walkers, which was a record. We’d like to exceed that — about 250 if possible.”

 

With sponsorships and individual registration fees, the result added “about $28,000-$29,000 total” to the bottom line, Beitzel said.

 

“We’re hoping to push it up to $30,000. That’s our goal.”

 

The walk begins at 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 Blake Ave. Walkers can choose either the easy one-mile roundtrip walk or the 5-mile walk. “Of course, you can turn around at any point,” Beitzel said.

 

After returning to the church, the walkers can receive a number of health screenings, including blood pressure, blood sugar and blood oxygen levels.

 

Monica Dixon will provide cooking demonstrations to encourage healthy diets.

 

For the grown-ups there will be chair massages. For the children, clowns, a balloon sculptor and face painting.

 

Prizes will be give for the team with the most walkers and the most money raised.

 

Sponsors include Sound Community Bank, Tom Blore with Peter Black Real Estate, Soroptimist International and Rochelle and Paul McHugh.

 

Beitzel noted that the money raised from sponsors “goes directly to care at the clinic.”

 

Individual registration is $10, free for those 12 and under. Sponsorships start for as little as $50.

For more information, call Beitzel at 681-0510.

 

For more on the Dungeness Health and Wellness Clinic, including hours, see sequimfreeclinic.org.

 


Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.
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