By TERRY ASLA and RICHARD WALKER
Harrison Medical Center owner CHI Franciscan Health and The Doctors Clinic announced Aug. 31 they are “coming together to enhance patient access and efficiency.”
The Doctors Clinic will be part of Franciscan Medical Group effective Sept. 3, and signage will say “The Doctors Clinic, part of Franciscan Medical Group.”
Dr. Peter F. O’Connor, chief operating officer of Franciscan Medical Group, said The Doctors Clinic will remain a private entity. “It’s a professional services agreement,” he said. “We are contracting with their company to provide physician services and advanced practice clinicians.”
However, CHI Franciscan Health did acquire The Doctors Clinic’s digital imaging, ambulatory surgery center, and laboratory.
The partnership gives The Doctors Clinic access to all of CHI Franciscan Health’s contracts with insurers, which means better reimbursements. “If you’re bigger, you are able to negotiate better contracts,” O’Connor said.
Scott Thompson, CHI Franciscan Health’s media relations specialist, said The Doctors Clinic’s patients “will not see much change, other than some new signage. It should be a seamless transition.”
CHI Franciscan Health CEO Ketul J. Patel said in an announcement of the partnership, “Aligning with The Doctors Clinic to enhance health care services for individuals and families across Kitsap Peninsula is an excellent direction for the region. Our organizations have a shared mission and commitment to clinical excellence and enhancing access to care for our communities throughout the Pacific Northwest.”
O’Connor would not disclose how much CHI Franciscan paid for The Doctors Clinic’s digital imaging, ambulatory surgery center and lab. “That’s proprietary information,” he said. But he did say CHI Franciscan would pay The Doctors Clinic on a monthly basis “for services rendered.”
The Doctors Clinic, which has grown to a team of 80 primary care doctors and specialists in eight locations throughout Kitsap County, has been caring for the people and communities in Kitsap County for more than six decades.
TDC will join CHI Franciscan Health’s Franciscan Medical Group and Harrison HealthPartners, which consists of 800 physicians and providers, “bringing the best elements of their practices together to share resources, reduce operating costs and deliver innovative and personalized care to Kitsap communities.”
Jay Burghart, executive director of The Doctors Clinic, said in the same partnership announcement, “We are thrilled to partner with CHI Franciscan Health, a premier health care provider in the Pacific Northwest, and continue to increase access to superior and individualized care for residents in the Kitsap region.
“The Doctors Clinic is focused on providing all of our patients with high-quality and compassionate care to get them back to living healthy lives. We believe that our new partnership will be a positive and exciting new direction for individuals and families living on the peninsula.”
CHI Franciscan announced earlier this week that it plans to invest more than $500 million at Harrison Medical Center in Silverdale, with the planned construction of a new hospital at that location. Thompson said a certificate is issued by the Department of Health certifying that the need for a new hospital exists, the permitting and construction process can begin with in-patient clients being accepted in late 2019 or early 2020.
The Doctors Clinic’s main facilities and locations are located adjacent to the Harrison Silverdale Campus.
CHI Franciscan Health (www.chifranciscan.org) is a nonprofit health system based in Tacoma, with nearly 12,000 doctors, nurses and staff at eight acute care hospitals and more than 100 primary and specialty care clinics in Pierce, King and Kitsap counties.
CHI Franciscan Health’s hospitals are St. Anthony Hospital, Gig Harbor; St. Clare Hospital, Lakewood; St. Elizabeth Hospital, Enumclaw; St. Francis Hospital, Federal Way; St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma; Harrison Medical Center, Bremerton and Silverdale; Highline Medical Center, Burien; and Regional Hospital, Burien.
The Doctors Clinic (thedoctorsclinic.com) is a multi-specialty medical group with more than 75 health care professionals at 10 clinical locations throughout Kitsap County. It was founded in 1949.
Still, some questionsAs is common regarding the subject of health care, questions turned to impact on care and cost.
Inside in the waiting room of The Doctors Clinic on 7th Avenue in Poulsbo Sept. 1, Christine Kelly expressed concerned that, with CHI Franciscan being a Catholic organization, certain services to women could be denied.
Kelly said she has been an active women’s rights supporter “since Roe v. Wade,” she said.
“I don’t want them to put their values on my care,” she said. “On anyone’s care. I think women should not be told what is, or is not, right for them.”
Bob Latrell said he had “gotten a note” about the CHI Franciscan/TDC partnership but he, too, had questions — in this case, regarding how the change will impact his costs for health care.
“I’ve had AARP for 10 years for my Medicare supplement insurance,” he said. “With my AARP insurance, Franciscan Health is out of network, as they say, so it’s not covered and I will have to pay it. [As I understand it] they will pay for charges from my existing doctor, but not if he sends me to someone else in CHI Franciscan.”
He’s also concerned about recent changes in the formulary (the list of drugs the insurance company will pay for).
“I’m a diabetic and I used to be on Novalin that cost me $84,” Latrell said. “But now they’ve changed the formulary and now I have to get a different insulin drug that costs over $700 for the same amount and that eats up my Medicare donut hole faster.”
Most Medicare Prescription Drug Plans have a coverage gap (also called the “donut hole”). This means there’s a temporary limit on what the drug plan will cover for drugs. Not everyone will enter the coverage gap. The coverage gap begins after you and your drug plan have spent a certain amount for covered drugs, according to www.medicare.gov.