New health care services have emerged at former Astria Health Center locations in Terrace Heights and Selah.

At the end of May, Astria Health closed four of its primary and specialty clinics in the Yakima area.

Best Practices Healthcare Center and Urgent Care opened at 715 N. Park Drive in Selah on Nov. 1. In February, Yakima Neighborhood Health Services opened Neighborhood Health Terrace Heights, a new adult care clinic at 2501 Business Lane.

Primary, urgent care in Selah

For Gregory Swart, co-owner of the Selah clinic, it was an opportunity to bring medical care to the community where he’s lived for the last 25 years.

Swart had been running Best Practices Medical Clinic, a family medicine practice, in Yakima for more than a decade.

Shortly after Astria Health closed its primary care clinic in Selah, Swart heard from Dr. Sunny Bhaskaran, owner of Pinnacle Healthcare Center, a sleep center in Yakima. Bhaskaran was interested in investing in another practice but talked to Swart about co-owning a clinic.

The pair ended up opening a family medicine practice and an urgent care center. That way, Swart said, Selah residents who have a medical emergency during the weekend or outside office hours can get treated closer to home rather than drive to a hospital emergency room or urgent care center in Yakima. Those urgent care patients can also sign up with a primary care provider at the same clinic.

Patients of Best Practices’ Yakima location have also been referred to the Selah location when their provider isn’t available, Swart said.

“If you cut your finger and need stitches, why drive into Yakima when you can head into Selah?” Swart said.

The clinic also offers behavioral health services.

“It’s a great complement to a family practice,” Swart said. “Behavioral health is such a needed service in the Yakima Valley.”

Most of the clinic’s initial business was testing for COVID-19. Over time, the clinic has attracted an even mix of patients for the family medicine practice and the urgent care clinic, including former Astria Health patients.

“Right now, it’s a matter of getting up and running at full capacity,” Swart said. “We’ll probably add another provider, a full-time family practice provider, as the other providers fill out their practice.”

Expanding adult care

Last March, the board and leadership of Yakima Neighborhood Health Services gathered for its strategic planning session.

One of the goals made during that session was to increase services for adults, anyone 18 or older. Typically, adults deal with more chronic conditions compared to children, which require more appointments.

“We need to increase our capacity to accommodate that,” said Neighborhood Health CEO Rhonda Hauff.

Shortly after that meeting, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Neighborhood Health had to shift gears, like many other medical providers.

The clinic space in Terrace Heights became available several months later.

“It was the perfect size, and it was in an area where we knew our clientele could get to,” Hauff said. “The opportunity came up, and we took advantage of the opportunity.”

The Terrace Heights location has several providers, including ones specializing in internal medicine, geriatrics and adult care. And this clinic also integrated behavioral health into its services.

Patients at the Terrace Heights location also have access to Neighborhood Health’s care coordinators, who work with patients dealing the multiple health conditions. Coordination services include referrals, scheduling appointments with specialists and even seeking out social services.

Hauff said an in-house pharmacy would open at the Terrace Heights clinic in a few weeks, which would allow patients to fill prescriptions while they’re there for medical care.

Provider schedules are starting to fill up, but the clinic is still taking new patients, Hauff said.

The new clinic in Terrace Heights is part of the organization’s continued expansion, which includes a clinic at Chuck Austin Place, the veterans housing project set to open this summer; increased use of its mobile unit; and anticipated new development in the Lower Yakima Valley, where it’s opened several clinics.

“More access to primary care for adults is important for our community,” Hauff said. “We’re anxious to bring these new resources to the community.”

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