Relocated family medicine clinic offers expanded services in same neighborhood
By Gary Pettus
Inside the new home of the Lakeland Family Medicine Center, none of the doors stick open.
Children have their own, separate waiting room, with books and toys.
Compared to the clinic’s old home, there’s double the space for patient exams, X-ray procedures, medical student training and, literally, breathing.
The Department of Family Medicine’s relocated clinic is in the same neighborhood, and even on the same street, as its former home, but for everyone involved, there’s been a welcome change of scenery.
“It’s been a joy to hear the reaction from patients who say to us, ‘You deserve it,’ and I say, ‘No, you deserve it – a nice, comfortable place to be seen,’” said Dr. Diane Beebe, chairman of the Department of Family Medicine.
Daily, approximately 80-100 patients visited the clinic’s former quarters at 878 Lakeland Drive, in clean but cramped lodgings featuring at least one office reincarnated from a restroom.
Some of the rooms were unusable because of shifting soil.
“Their doors wouldn’t close,” Beebe said.
All the doors work at the overhauled digs on the second floor of the four-story Lakeland Medical Center, 764 Lakeland Drive, about one-tenth of a mile down the street, or about a five-minute walk, going west.
That’s where the refurbished clinic, and its expanded services, debuted Jan. 14, across Lakeland from University Rehabilitation Center, after staff and faculty spent a few days moving in.
“Dr. Beebe and I are both thrilled with the outcome and know our faculty, staff and patients will be, too,” said Dr. James Keeton, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.
“Plans for a new family medicine clinic have been underway for some time, and I appreciate everyone’s dedication and flexibility with this project.”
Dr. Anthony Cloy, assistant professor of family medicine, discusses a patient’s EKG with fourth-year medical student Gunter Cain while residents, from left, Dr. Lauren Treadwell and Dr. Anthony Washington, finish patient files with assistance from Dr. Kelly Bishop.
"Everyone" includes 26 clinic employees, 16 residents and about 15 clinical faculty members who populate the facility that belongs to the Department of Family Medicine's clinical arm, University Physicians Family Medicine.
But many more are affected by the transformation - medical students, pharmacy students and residents, dental residents, psychiatry residents and clinical psychology faculty - all of whom train, rotate or bring students to the now-spacious clinic.
"In the old building, the students were piled on top of each other," Beebe said.
The old accommodations had housed a private orthopedic clinic before the university purchased it and moved the family medicine clinic there in 1995. The building had been in use for at least 35-40 years before that, Beebe estimated.
As for the new site, family medicine is sharing the Lakeland Medical Center building with the Department of Ophthalmology's adult and pediatric clinics, which moved in about a year ago, on the first and third floors. Sometime in the spring, a new otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) clinic is scheduled to open on the top floor.
The family medicine clinic's own relocation was a four-day maneuver, including a weekend - the culmination of years of organization and anticipation.
"It was a can-do attitude," said Beebe, attributing much of the move's success to Will Wood, the clinic's ambulatory operations director, and Paula Mitchell, office manager.
"I'm glad we now have a facility that matches the quality of the faculty and the staff," Wood said.
The reviews from patients and employees are glowing, Mitchell said. "We love it - all the space."
Clinical space has doubled, to 10,000 square feet, compared to about 5,000 at the defunct clinic. The total square footage, counting office area, is 14,000.
Throughout the move, when the clinic was closed, patients who needed immediate attention could be seen at the Grants Ferry Clinic or the Quick Care Clinic.
Before the relocation, Beebe's department informed regular patients of the pending move by letters, waiting-room notices and more, but some are still dropping by the old, familiar place, part of a phalanx of medical offices off Lakeland Drive.
There, a group of schedulers and the phone-call center are still on hand, at least until early March, said Candace Love, supervisor of scheduling operations.
"We've just outgrown this building," she said.
Less than a city block away, the new place has space for more providers, which should bring in more patients, Beebe said.
"Some were going outside the university system for certain procedures we couldn't offer or fit in," she said. "We hope more will choose to allow us to take care of them now.
"I'd just like to say, 'patients, welcome.'"
Some of the family medicine clinic’s highlights include:
• 26 exam rooms, compared to 16 at the old clinic;
• two procedure rooms, double the old number;
• a separate waiting room for children (not available at the former site);
• a sub-waiting room for patients who need lab work (they had to sit in the hallway in the old building);
• expanded or first-time space for X-ray, musculoskeletal ultrasound and Ob-Gyn procedures, and a screening test called spirometry, used to diagnose asthma and other breathing conditions;
• room-to-room computer access to patient information for physicians, who formerly had to lug around laptops;
• permanent setups for osteopathic manipulation therapy for pain relief (formerly, there were only tables that had to be taken down after every procedure);
• an upgraded monitoring system faculty members use to observe students with patients;
• a conference area for providers to meet with patients; and
• patient education monitors in the waiting area (“We tried them in the other building, but we could never make them work,” Wood said.).