After years of starts and stops, plans for The Oregon Clinic to open a new location south of the Providence Newberg Medical Center have been unveiled.
The proposal will transform three acres of what is now a vacant field on Providence Drive into a 17,000-square-foot, two-story, gastroenterology-focused "ambulatory surgery center" and the beginnings of a potential medical campus.
While the gastroenterology specialists have already been operating part time out of a small office at PNMC, the new space will allow the doctors to see more patients, cut down long wait times and better offer a needed service to Newberg and the region, according Brian Applebaum, a physician with the practice.
"There's a need for our field and the wait times in our existing space are three months right now because we don't have the physical space," he said. "We have the providers; we don't have a place to basically put those providers to see the patients who are already in need."
The Newberg City Council approved a plan last month to divide a 10-acre parcel of land owned by the Werth family in two: seven acres to for Friendsview Retirement Community and three acres for The Oregon Clinic. Technically the building will be owned by 16 physicians of the Gastroenterology South Division of The Oregon Clinic.
The city's review of the clinic's design application, which gives the project value at $7.5 million, brings plans for the clinic into what will likely be the home stretch after years of looking at various properties only to have those plans dashed.
"The challenge has been that the properties that we've been able to find that were available ended up having problems," Applebaum said.
A proposal to build the clinic was previously considered in the same area, but east of Providence Drive. That placed it partially on land proposed for a phase of the Newberg-Dundee bypass, and some parties expressed concern that construction on that site could make future right-of-way purchases unrealistically expensive.
That development proposal spurred the Yamhill County Parkway Committee to take action that led to the allocation of $10.5 million to buy that land for right-of-way sooner rather than later. (Much of that money was originally allotted for the first phase of the bypass).
Applebaum noted that he and others planning the new clinic site spent more than six months looking into that particular spot until the second phase of the bypass route – which had previously appeared lifeless – suddenly became an issue.
"Just by virtue of us looking into that property, that entire process got resurrected," he noted.
Acknowledging that this was the first interview The Oregon Clinic has given about its plans in Newberg, Applebaum took the opportunity to refute a claim from the city last year that the clinic could create between 60 and 140 new jobs. Applebaum said the clinic will likely create 20 new jobs, some not even in Newberg.
While the building increases The Oregon Clinic's physical presence in Newberg, Applebaum said the gastroenterology specialists – focusing on digestive health – have already been working out of PNMC for about a decade, where they offer 24/7 coverage for the emergency room, care for patients in a variety of wards and occasional operations.
The group of physicians will continue with all of that, but the new building will allow them to move much of the work into their own building. In particular, the new building will allow them to dramatically expand their outpatient services and replace the small part-time office in Providence Newberg.
"We're making a bigger commitment to the community of Newberg," he said. "Having a smaller presence in the community allowed us to get a feel for the hospital and the local community, and we've realized it's a community we really believe in and we're engaged in, and we want to provide more care,"
"There's also a huge need," he added, explaining that, aside from The Oregon Clinic and another practice in Salem, the area west and southwest of Newberg all the way to the coast has no gastroenterology practitioners. He expected the clinic could see between 15,000 and 20,000 patients per year.
Applebaum explained that the group of physicians wanted to keep their new building as close to PNMC as possible, both to continue offering the same emergency services they have been but also to seed what they hope will become a larger medical campus in Newberg.
He noted that The Oregon Clinic had hoped to locate in a Providence medical office building at some point, but decided that the demand for their services was too great to wait.
"Based on our plans to date, we're really hoping that this is going to be a really attractive building that sort of fits in with the style of the surrounding community but also looks really nice in its own right," he said. "We want this to be sort of a showpiece – as much as medical hospital can be a showpiece – and help create a hospital campus."
If all goes according to plan, Applebaum expects work on the site to begin by the end of summer with a conservative estimate that the clinic will be open by summer 2018.