Central Oregon patient surge spurs leasing binge

Health care providers need more space

By Joseph Ditzler / The Bulletin / @josefditzler

St. Charles Health System, Bend Memorial Clinic and Mosaic Medical went on a leasing spree early this year, renting almost 72,000 square feet in Bend and Redmond to meet the demand for services imposed by a growing number of health care recipients.

Throw in two new independent pharmacies and the total climbs to more than 87,000 square feet, and that does not include two new Walgreens.

Officials with St. Charles, BMC and Mosaic said a growing number of patients, the result of the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid, spurred plans to consolidate administrative offices and to expand the space dedicated to providing health care. Compass Commercial Real Estate Services reported the leases in Compass Points, its quarterly survey of commercial real-estate transactions.

“We have added 6,000 new patients since Jan. 1,” said Elaine Knobbs, director of programs and development for Mosaic Medical, a nonprofit agency with the most Medicaid patients in Central Oregon. Mosaic leased 8,565 square feet at Mill Point Business Campus, 600 S.W. Columbia St., Bend.

In March and April, Mosaic consolidated its administrative offices into the Columbia Street building, she said. The organization also created a new eight-person call center there to deal with the sudden surge in patient numbers. Six of the new call-center hires are bilingual, Knobbs said.

Moving its record-keeping out of its Bend clinic at 409 N.E. Greenwood Ave., gave health care providers “space to breathe and a little more room,” she said. “We’ve been increasing staff over the past year or more in anticipation of the January Medicaid expansion under the Oregon Health Plan. We’ve been in very tight quarters.”

Expansion of the health care industry defied slumping employment trends during The Great Recession, according to Damon Runberg, Central Oregon regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department. One facet of expanding health care services is the growing popularity of outpatient clinics, Runberg wrote May 19 for the department website, QualityInfo.org.

“Due to the rising cost of inpatient hospital services, Oregonians are increasingly utilizing outpatient clinics and primary care physicians for their significant cost savings,” he wrote.

Christy McLeod, BMC chief marketing officer, cited the popularity of its urgent care clinic as one factor driving BMC’s decision to lease 41,217 square feet at 815 S.W. Bond St., from River Bend Properties 1 LLC. BMC plans to move and expand its urgent care facility from the westside clinic at 1080 S.W. Mount Bachelor Drive, to the new location, McLeod said.

“Patients just love going there, and our patients are needing more space,” she said. “It seemed to make sense.”

Also, imaging and lab services will relocate there from the west side clinic, and with them will go family practitioners, internal care specialists, pediatricians and allergists, all of whom require either lab or imaging services, McLeod said. Some providers from the eastside clinic at 1501 N.E. Medical Center Drive will move into the Bond Street clinic as well.

Work is underway to transform three suites into space for BMC, which will share the building with Century Insurance Group LLC and the American Red Cross. BMC designated the facility its Old Mill Clinic.

The westside clinic will retain some providers. “The optical department would stay there. We have a neck and back clinic in NorthWest Crossing and we would probably move into that building,” along with sleep labs, McLeod said.

Planning for the move began last fall, based partly on information gleaned from patient focus groups, she said. “We have planned to grow at a time that our patients have told us they support us, that they plan to come to us,” she said.

St. Charles Health System leased two properties, one each in Redmond and Bend, to create a women’s health clinic and consolidate office space, said Chief Operating Officer John Weinsheim. St. Charles is renovating 9,856 square feet of 340 N.W. Fifth St., in Redmond, leased from Redmond Commercial Group, to accommodate five OB-GYN practitioners and a nurse practitioner, he said. The Black Bear Diner is located in the same building.

The women’s health group will move from the Redmond family care clinic at 211 N.W. Larch Ave.

Factors that dictated the move include expansion of services, creation of patient-care teams and growing numbers of patients, Weinsheim said. Last summer, St. Charles decided to separate the family and women’s practices to afford each room to grow.

“Over the past few years, services for both practices has grown pretty steadily,” he said. “Not just demand for access to primary care physicians; we have grown the size of care teams that care for patients.”

Weinsheim said he expects to bring more staff on slowly, “not an explosion of jobs,” but hiring nurse practitioners, physician assistants, receptionists and others over time.

In Bend, St. Charles leased 11,980 square feet at 2500 N.E. Twin Knolls Drive from IA Twin Knolls LLC to consolidate seven departments located elsewhere around the city, said St. Charles spokeswoman Kayley Mendenhall. About 60 employees will be affected by the move, she said. Health and wellness, insurance claims, community benefit and other teams will be moved to that building, she said.

“We’re hoping it will be a more efficient use of space,” she said.

In May, High Lakes Health Care announced it would anchor a new medical center on Northwest Shevlin Park Road in Bend. High Lakes will occupy its own 7,600-square-foot clinic. Another 10 buildings could fill the 5-acre site, according to site plans. The developer, Taylor Brooks LLC, expects to create a health-and-wellness business park with a pharmacy and other providers, such as a chiropractor, acupuncturist, optometrist and others.

High Lakes plans to keep its westside clinic at Southwest Simpson and Colorado avenues.

Also in May, Westside Pharmacy, an independent business, opened on Southwest Century Drive, joining Cascade Custom Pharmacy, which opened in April at 2065 N.E. Williamson Court, in Bend, as a locally owned business.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com