“The doctor ‘is’ accepting new patients.”
Being able to have staff answer callers in that way is one of the reasons Pella Regional Health Center is opening its new clinic in Ottumwa.
The new branch already has patients making appointments, though they’ll have to wait until 8 a.m. on Sept. 10 to be seen.
That’s when Pella Regional opens their medical clinic at 920 N. Quincy Ave., the location of the former Rex TV and Appliance.
“Since the announcement of our new medical clinic in Ottumwa was made public,” said Pella Regional CEO Bob Kroese, “we’ve received calls and emails ... our patient list is already growing.”
“This is not a walk-in clinic,” said hospital spokesperson Cyndi Atkins. “We’re a medical clinic — a medical ‘home,’ so you have a [doctor’s name] when asked who your provider is.”
Atkins said Pella Regional had done research showing the doctor-to-patient ratio in Ottumwa showed too few doctors. Ottumwa residents have been saying for years — without any research — that many doctors “aren’t accepting new patients.” That is, if you’re not already being seen there, you can’t make an appointment.
Even if you are a current patient, it may still be weeks or months before an appointment.
“We were told of the primary care need in this area,” Kroese said, “so we saw an opportunity to extend our mission: providing health care and healing services with Christian compassion.”
When they first started discussing plans to open a clinic in Ottumwa, Atkins said, they knew very few specifics.
Now, they’ve hired family practice doctors, certified physician’s assistants and staff to provide primary care.
Though multiple departments at the clinic mean patients can access lots of services, repairing a bone shattered five minutes ago in a car accident is not one of them.
“If it’s a life-threatening situation, go to your nearest emergency [department],” said Kroese.
But outside of emergencies, there are specialists available on site for referrals: doctors specializing in orthopedics, urology and gynecology.
OB/GYN has both a physician and a nurse practitioner. Services include prenatal care up to 32 weeks.
The medical lab is on site, allowing “blood draws” and tests for strep, for example, to be done in-house.
As for seeing what’s going on inside patients, the imaging department has both ultrasound scans and X-rays. Denise Kelly can do both, which gives physicians the ability to order echo-cardiography, vascular ultrasounds and OB/GYN tests.
And because things like X-rays come out in digital form (rather than as the films doctors used to hold up to a light), technology allows a second doctor to check X-ray results.
“It’s nice,” Kelly said. “The doctor here can see the image, but the radiologist in Pella can pull up [the digital X-ray images] on his monitor, too.”
Kroese said one clue that Pella’s resources are available to their clinicians can be seen from the road out front: The building is designed in a Dutch style just like the main hospital.
He said the leadership at the hospital felt that brand connection would help them show “our commitment that we’re going to provide the same standard of care” as they do at all their facilities.
So do they see Ottumwa Regional Health Center as “the competition?”
In a way, Kroese acknowledged.
“It is a competitive thing, but we also have similar goals. We all want to provide care for our patients. We both want to do what is best for the patient.”
Pella’s hospital is a 501(c)3 private, not-for-profit organization guided by a board of directors.
“Pella has made a commitment to this community,” said Atkins. “We bought a building; we’re not renting. We’ve hired 23 staff, the majority of whom live in Ottumwa. We plan to [stay] here.”
“The doctor ‘is’ accepting new patients.”
- CNHI/Southeast Iowa
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