In the first month after moving into its new 10,000-square-foot building on Point Brown Avenue, the Sea Mar Community Health Centers Ocean Shores Medical Clinic saw an increase of 106 new patients.
In addition to providing primary care five days per week with a special interest in preventative medicine, Sea Mar now has a dental clinic, behavioral health services and even new X-ray equipment. It has pediatric patients and adult patients.
“Another benefit that Sea Mar provides is a customer care or customer service agent. She is able to help patients find medical coverage,” said Deborah Thomas, medical assistant supervisor. “That’s an added bonus for our patients.”
Sea Mar first branched out to the North Beach in 2006, when its clinic then was located in Copalis Beach. It also has a larger sister clinic in Aberdeen.
Staff at the Ocean Shores facility find a certain amount of pride in their new building and in playing an important role in the health care of the community.
“We have always been committed to the community,” said Clinic Manager Audra Lutz. “This is sort of our monument to that, to our commitment in terms of bringing additional services and expending our current services.”
Sea Mar continues to take new patients, and it accepts Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and self-pay patients.
“If you are in the area, either for vacation or on a permanent basis, we invite you to call on us for your health care needs,” the clinic states on its website.
Currently, the clinic has one medical doctor and two nurse practitioners. With the X-ray equipment, qualified technicians can provide an image of the injury to a radiologist on Vashon Island who reads Sea Mar’s images and then reports back to the providers on what the results are.
“We would like to grow by another provider or two,” Thomas said. “We do have 10 patient rooms, so we can see up to 10 patients at a time. With three providers, they are pretty darn busy throughout the entire day.”
The clinic celebrated its new building with an open house last month that included a ribbon cutting by the Ocean Shores/North Beach Chamber of Commerce and its group of Ambassadors. Word has been spreading that the clinic is now full-service. The dental service has provided a steady new stream of patients since the service started to be offered in December.
“Indeed, we are growing exponentially. We are seeing a lot of new patients on a weekly and monthly basis,” Thomas noted. “That’s both on the dental and medical side.”
The new patients include people who have long lived in the area as well as many newcomers. Some of them are folks who would go to Hoquiam, Aberdeen or even Olympia for medical services in the past.
Overall, the number of patients seen by Sea Mar in the area is about 3,000, Thomas and Lutz estimate.
Lutz refers to their new “big, beautiful building” as a symbol of Sea Mar’s dedication.
“Our organization is constantly analyzing the needs of the communities it serves,” she said. “We’ll have to see where that demand takes us.”
The Aberdeen facility is about 20,000-plus square feet, with six to seven medical providers in addition to dental, and departments for behavioral health and substance abuse.
“For patients needing behavioral health care, they are typically treated in our Aberdeen office,” Thomas noted. “But one of the beauties of our electronic health records is that we can have a continuity of care for patients, regardless if they are in Aberdeen or Pacific Beach or here in Ocean Shores.”
Lutz noted Sea Mar is working on adding additional behavioral health services in the area “because we recognize that certainly is a need out here.” The new clinic does have designated space for services, but the next hurdle is finding qualified staff “to fit out here.”
With health services often a key issue with the growing retirement community in Ocean Shores, Lutz said moving into the new building has been a positive experience because of the reception.
“It’s been fun for the staff and the patients. This building is gorgeous. It’s architecturally beautiful. It blends well with the surroundings. For us to move into such a beautiful facility is very, very exciting. And we’re excited for our patients, because we feel they should have the best too.”