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The location will be the fifth American Family Care franchise clinic in the Portland metro area

COURTESY: AFC URGENT CARE CLINIC PORTLAND - A $1.2 million, 3,386-square-foot urgent care clinic slated to open later this year in  Oregon City will be the fifth American Family Care location in the Portland metro area.

Oregon City residents will have a new option for accessing medical care when an American Family Care urgent care clinic opens later this year.

A groundbreaking for the clinic, at 397 Warner Milne Road, is slated for Tuesday, March 19. When completed, the 3,386-square-foot, wood-frame facility will offer eight exams rooms and a range of services that includes digital x-rays and on-site laboratory services.

The Oregon City clinic is the fifth that local managing partner Guru Sankar has opened in the Portland metro area as an American Family Care (AFC) franchisee. Sankar started with one clinic in Lake Oswego in 2011, before opening additional clinic locations in Northwest and Northeast Portland and Beaverton. While the Oregon City clinic is slated to open in July or August, Sankar has plans to open more, including one in Hillsboro, over the next couple of years.

Like Sankar's other Portland metro AFC franchise locations, the Oregon City clinic will be open seven days a week, and will offer both online scheduled exams and walk-in appointments. While most urgent care clinics offer emergency and primary care services, Sankar thinks a highlight of the AFC model is that if offers services beyond the basics.

"(The other urgent care clinics) are what you'd call retail clinics," he said. "They usually don't have much of a lab; they don't have x-rays in most of their clinics.

Like the other AFC locations in the Portland metro area, the Oregon City clinic will offer a what Sankar calls a "medium complexity" laboratory able to offer compete blood panels

'We can do all the normal tests you see in a doctor's office or retail clinic, but we can do more complex tests while patients wait," he said.

Shifting expectations

Health care has transitioned over the years in response to changing desires of patients, according to Dan Reese, director of marketing for the local AFC clinics.

While it used to be common for people to stick with the same doctor for years, or even decades, approximately half of the patients who go to urgent care clinics across the country don't have a primary care physician. In addition, most millennials tend to be more comfortable with relationships that are more transactional, Reese said.

Those are the patients whom the founder of AFC was looking to serve when he came up with the model. There currently are more than 200 AFC clinics in 26 states offering services from sutures to setting bones, Reese said. The local clinics also serve a large number of patients who are simply looking for basic wellness checkups.

"We have people who come in and they just want a baseline as to where their health is," Sankar said.

For patients who want more consistent relationships, Sankar said some of the physicians at his clinics do run primary care provider practices. The AFC clinics accept insurance from a wide range of providers. However, the locations also strive to keep costs affordable for patients who don't have insurance.

The AFC clinic model also offers a list of services for businesses, from new-hire and random drug testing to occupational medicine services. The local clinics, for example, often work with employers to help the determine ways to adjust employee work duties to accommodate returns to light duty after work-related injuries.

A far reach

Sankar said there are a handful of urgent care facilities in the area, so he expects the AFC clinic will attract patients from as far north as Clackamas and Happy Valley, and as far south as Sandy.

"If you look at Oregon City (and the surrounding area), it's probably the least served, in our estimation, with this type of medical service," Sankar said.

With that in the mind, the clinic will be larger than the other AFC locations in the metro area, with eight exam rooms. In addition, the Oregon City clinic is the first that will be new construction.

Our model is usually leasing or renting space," Sankar said. "We'd been looking at Oregon City for a little over two years. We looked at some (existing) space, but this happened to be a really perfect location for us."

Portland-based Stuart Gordon Straus Architect is the project designer. The firm worked with a basic design that AFC provides for all of its newly constructed clinic franchises.

Joseph Hughes Construction, the Portland-based company that has handled interior renovations for the existing AFC clinics in the area, is serving as general contractor for the $1.2 million Oregon City project.

"We're pretty similar in philosophies," Sankassaid. "Our employee policies are very similar."

The Oregon City clinic won't begin accepting regular patients until it opens later this year. However, Reese said companies interested in tapping the clinic's business services don't have to wait.

"The preparation for setting up accounts and prepping companies to work (with the clinic) can all be done in advance," he said. "We're already in touch with a lot of Oregon businesses so that we can accept (their) employees when we open our doors in Oregon City."

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