North Olympic Healthcare Network is expanding to a new site at 933 E. First St. to accommodate the rapid growth it has seen. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

North Olympic Healthcare Network is expanding to a new site at 933 E. First St. to accommodate the rapid growth it has seen. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

North Olympic Healthcare Network to expand in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — North Olympic Healthcare Network will soon be able to see patients the same day they call.

NOHN is preparing to open its Expanded Services building at 933 E. First St. this summer. It will provide medical care, integrated behavioral health services, oral health and dental care, nurse care management, and patient navigation, said CEO Dr. Michael Maxwell.

NOHN’s call center and other administrative services have been moved already and after more renovations, most other services — excluding dental — will be available in July, Maxwell said.

He said the expansion will allow NOHN to offer people immediate access to health care at the new site.

It won’t be a walk-in clinic, but people will be able to call and set an appointment for the same day, he said.

“If someone needs to have something addressed that day, we’ll have a place that will always have capacity to meet their needs,” he said.

Since Family Medicine of Port Angeles became a federally qualified health center in 2015 and was renamed North Olympic Healthcare Network, the health center has taken on an additional 4,000 patients and has nearly tripled its staff to about 100 employees.

NOHN now sees a total of 12,000 patients and has 19 medical providers and six behavioral health staff members.

“With all this extra staff we were just literally bursting at the seams and we were finding it hard to do all the work we needed to do,” Maxwell said.”We needed to get more square footage to do that work.”

He said NOHN will continue to accept about 100 to 120 new patients each month.

“We’ve called around and there’s just no one taking new patients,” he said. “It’s hard, especially if you’re under-insured. We’ll see anybody anytime with any insurance.”

NOHN recently acquired the 10,000-square-foot building that previously housed Klallam Counseling Services. NOHN’s site at 240 W. Front St. is about 16,000 square feet and still will be where patients see their primary care providers.

Maxwell said the goal is to move services into the new site as soon as possible.

NOHN is expecting medical residents from Swedish Medical Center to arrive late this month and they’ll be using the same spaces staff are currently using.

That only increases the need to open the new building as soon as possible, he said.

“We need to get cleared out of there,” he said.

Maxwell said much of NOHN’s medicine assisted treatment program for opioid use disorder will move to the new site, though all the providers at the primary site will continue to work it into their schedules.

Among the biggest changes for NOHN that comes with the expansion is the addition of a dental clinic, expected to open in early 2019. He said the dental clinic would take up about a fifth of the new building.

Maxwell said only 22 percent of people with Medicaid coverage have access to dental care.

“We’ve been working these past two and a half years on how to do a dental clinic and to address the unmet need,” he said. “There’s so many people not getting oral health care, they are ending up in the ER and they are suffering with abscesses and poor health because of it.”

The dental clinic is possible because of a $600,000 capital fund appropriation by the state Legislature in March, Maxwell said.

That money will help NOHN put in seven dental chairs, one or two dentists, hygienists and dental assistants.

“We’ll be able to treat anyone for their dental needs,” he said.

He said the hope is to have that funding available by August and for the dental clinic to be open during the first quarter of next year.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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