The Biz Buzz

Get the most up-to-date news, insights and analysis of Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound business.

NOTICE: The Biz Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved The Biz Buzz.
Visit the new section.

DaVita, big downtown Tacoma employer, will open its first primary care clinic this week

Post by Kathleen Cooper / The News Tribune on Jan. 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
January 30, 2012 4:08 pm
DaVita employee Mike Grund schedules an appointment Monday with the help of Alicia Ramirez-James, a front desk host in the lobby of the new Paladina Health clinic in downtown Tacoma. Paladina is a subsidiary of DaVita, and the clinic will open Wednesday. Photo by Peter Haley / Staff photographer

Downtown Tacoma’s largest employer will open a new business prototype this week on Pacific Avenue.

Kidney dialysis leader DaVita Inc. will open its first primary care clinic Wednesday. Denver-based DaVita is expanding into primary care through its subsidiary, Paladina Health.

The Tacoma clinic at 1250 Pacific Ave., which will open a month ahead of schedule, is Paladina’s first. The company also is growing through acquisitions, evidenced by its purchase earier this month of Modern Med, a Wisconsin-based clinic group.

“We had a lot of hard work and a little extra money” to finish early in Tacoma, Rebecca Steinfort, a DaVita vice president, said Monday. “We’re ready to try it out.”

Paladina is the second clinic in Tacoma to offer primary care without involving insurance companies. Qliance, a Seattle-based company, opened a clinic last fall at 2420 S. Union Ave., near Allenmore Hospital.

These direct primary care clinics are open to anyone, and charge a monthly membership fee. They’re designed to address most issues people need to see a doctor for, including women’s health services, pediatric care, urgent care for things such as broken bones, and chronic care for conditions such as diabetes.

Paladina will charge $69 per member per month, with a reduced rate for children. Qliance membership is $59, according to their website.

Dr. David Cameron will run the Paladina clinic. He spent the last nine years at Community Health Care‘s Lakewood office, where he was responsible for about 3,000 patients. At Paladina, it will be about a third that many.

Cameron said he came to Paladina because he is intrigued by novel approaches to primary care, which is the foundation of health and essential in driving down costs.

“Doctors want to be able to take care of people and do the right thing,” he said.

DaVita is based in Denver, and its business headquarters employ about 1,000 people in downtown Tacoma. The clinic is across the street from DaVita’s main office building, and it occupies the last retail space in Tacoma’s Pacific Plaza. About 630 DaVita employees have signed up to use the clinic so far, Steinfort said.

To encourage clinic use, DaVita is paying the membership fees for employees in its medium- and high-deductible plans.

Paladina’s second clinic will open in June near corporate headquarters, she said. Then Paladina plans 10-12 more clinics in the Puget Sound region during the next two years. The Tacoma clinic shows they can open one in 3-5 months, Steinfort said, so Paladina will consider locations based on employer interest.

DaVita itself is also in the market for more space downtown by the end of the year. In addition to the company’s main building on Pacific Avenue, they lease about 80,000 square feet in the Columbia Bank Center. Commercial brokers say DaVita has hired a real estate firm to help them find 100,000 square feet for the Columbia Bank Center operations.

Broker Mike Hickey, whose firm also manages Columbia Bank Center, said in December that DaVita could find a little more space there and find the balance elsewhere downtown, such as in the Wells Fargo Plaza or the Tacoma Financial Center. DaVita also could find the whole space somewhere else.

*
The News Tribune now uses Facebook commenting on selected blogs. See editor's column for more details. Commenters are expected to abide by terms of service for Facebook as well as commenting rules for thenewstribune.com. Report violators to webmaster@thenewstribune.com.