Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

About 65 people gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and blessing of the newly redesigned St. Alphonsus Medical Group Clinic Friday morning.

The improvements, which have been three years and $2.9 million in the making, have culminated in a bright new setting that provides easier access to medical care for patients.

The new design also accommodates more of a team approach for physicians, their assistants and other medical providers at the clinic, says Rob Gaslin, the hospital’s chief financial officer and clinic director.

“This will help enhance our recruiting and retention of employees,” Gaslin says of the improved quarters.

“This is a true multispecialty clinic with general surgery, orthopedics, rheumatology and primary care all under one roof,” he said.

The new arrangement already has resulted in what Gaslin calls “drive-by consults” in which one of the practitioners has asked a patient “mind if I grab one of the other docs to take a look at that?”

Improvements include new equipment, new furnishings and new decor throughout the clinic. Gaslin said that although no new walls were added to the exterior of the clinic side of the medical center, lots of movement took place on the inside.

The family practice providers, who previously were housed at the Baker Clinic, work from one hub. Though each provider has a dedicated medical assistant, the assistants will work as a “care team” filling in when and where they are needed, Gaslin said.

The former Baker Clinic building at 3175 Pocahontas Road has been “repurposed” to house visiting physicians, including Dr. Travis Hampton, a La Grande podiatrist; Dr. Joseph Petrusek, a La Grande ear, nose and throat specialist; and one of three visiting cardiologists.

The former Valley Medical Center office building will be used for storage, Gaslin said.

On a tour through the updated clinic, Gaslin pointed with pride to many new features such as a fully automated and fully adjustable medical exam tables with foot controls, waterproof ceiling tiles that allow easy cleanup when necessary and wall-mounted flat screen monitors that link to ultrasound images and computer connections.

A new reception area, which began welcoming patients on April 2, is included in the design as well. Two patient service representatives greet people as they enter the clinic at the north end of the building from the Medical Center’s front parking lot.

Kim Hughes is a medical assistant and patient services representative. On Friday, she and Alicia Wolfe, patient service representative, worked to prepare for the next round of appointments during some down time Friday while also answering the questions of visitors during the tours scheduled during the morning hours.

“It will definitely be helpful for patients,” Hughes said of the new quarters, noting that they’ll be able to access multiple services at the clinic. “They won’t have to go out in inclement weather. This is a one-stop shop.”

Patients will call a new telephone number — 541-524-7955 — to schedule appointments or for information. The number will serve both the physicians clinic that is part of the Medical Center and the former Baker Clinic. The Baker Clinic’s old phone number will be disconnected soon.

Improvements to the parking lot include covered ramps to accommodate those in wheel chairs as they enter and leave the clinic side and the hospital side of the building.

The remodeled parking lot includes a stretch of sidewalk without curbs to allow for patient “drive-up and drop-off” in temporary parking spaces, Gaslin said.

See more in the April 11, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.