Since demand for doctors has outpaced the services offered in Maple Valley in recent years, Valley Medical Center officials have decided to build a new clinic at Four Corners.
The clinic, located on the east side of Maple Valley Highway on the edge of Maple Valley Town Center, will be home to primary care physicians as well as urgent care services, explained Dr. Shannon Markegard, medical director for the clinic and associate medical director for physician services at Valley.
Markegard explained that Valley initially operated a small clinic in Four Corner Square after buying out the practice of Dr. David Sweiger in 2005. Markegard began practicing medicine shortly after that with Valley in the clinic in Maple Valley. In 2011, Valley moved the primary care clinic from Four Corner Square to Sawyer Village, located off Southeast 216th and Kent-Kangley Road.
Construction on the 10,000 square foot facility at Four Corners began last fall. Markegard explained that the demand for health care in Maple Valley has outstripped what Valley provides at Lake Sawyer clinic.
“They recognize that there’s a huge need for primary care in this area as the community grows,” Markegard said. “That’s why they decided to open up a clinic in Maple Valley, even though it’s outside the hospital district. That community is a very desirable care mix. The median income for families is similar to Bellevue or Newcastle, so, it’s a great place to build a clinic.”
And with the Lake Sawyer clinic at capacity, Markegard said, it makes even more sense. Markegard is one of three physicians who practice at Lake Sawyer. There is also a physician’s assistant and nurse practitioner who see patients.
“We have some appointments before 10 a.m., but, otherwise we have to send people to urgent care, which we don’t want to do,” Markegard said. “We want to improve our access. We probably have about 11,000 to 12,000 patients in our panel total. So, it’s pretty full.”
With a wide variety of patient needs ranging from children and adults who need yearly checkups to those with health issues such as diabetes that require more frequent visits, Markegard said, it is important to not overload medical providers.
Markegard will move over to the new clinic when it opens this summer. She hired another doctor, Ginger Allen, who has practiced medicine since 2004, to work at the new clinic. Markegard said a new physician coming out of residency will move into the Lake Sawyer clinic.
“(The new facility) meets the demand because even though we have two experienced physicians moving to Maple Valley … we are hiring a new physician who will hopefully build her panel,” Markegard said. “(She) has brand new openings for her panel. There’s going to be room for about 4,000 patients.”
Opening the new facility with primary and urgent care services will fill another gap in health care offerings in Maple Valley, Markegard said.
“That’s another bonus for the community,” Markegard said. “You no longer have to drive into Covington for urgent care. It’s better for us and better for patient care to have an urgent care because then we have access to their medical information (electronically).”
Markegard noted that she is in the process of hiring doctors for the urgent care side of the clinic, which will be open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on weekends. There will be one physician per shift at the urgent care, something she said is important because not all urgent care clinics offer that service in the region.
In addition, there will be a digital X-ray machine at the new facility, which allows Markegard or other doctors there to view images in person, or to look at them during phone consultations with a radiologist at the hospital in Renton.
There will also be phlebotomy services at the clinic so that patient blood draws can be done one site.
What will truly set the new clinic apart, Markegard said, will be the employees.
“It’s important to know that we’re hiring people who live and work in the same community,” Markegard said. “I’m going to see my patients at Fred Meyer on the weekends. It’s going to bring it to that level of community care, to your neighborhood, close to home … with the doctors that could be your neighbors. Our doctors will be excellent communicators, provide fantastic service … I’m hiring the doctors for my friends and my family. It’s going to be a fantastic clinic … because of the people that I’m hiring.”