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PacMed clinic opens in Puyallup

Providing care close to home

Puyallup City Councilman John Vermillion, Dr. Brian Kim, Linda Marzano and Dr. Bret Daniel, from left, cut the ribbon Aug. 4 to celebrate the opening of the new Pacific Medical Center in Puyallup. Heather Short

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The Aug. 4 official opening of the new Pacific Medical Center in Puyallup gave surrounding residents something to celebrate.

PacMed, the only TRICARE Prime provider on the West Coast, has contracts with the Franciscan Health Group in Pierce County and the Providence Medical Group near Everett, making it the largest nonprofit healthcare network in the Puget Sound area. As such, it reaches out to a large population of military families and beneficiaries in Western Washington.

Several beneficiaries from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord area were invited to attend the official ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new Puyallup PacMed clinic. They were also treated to an open house of the new facility, and potential clients were treated to a full clinic tour, refreshments, and an opportunity to talk with the clinic staff about their health plans.  Dr. Brian Kim, the clinic's primary physician, was also on hand to meet with patients.

The clinic is open to private insurance patients as well as those covered under the Uniformed Services Family Health Plan (USFHP). PacMed, an alternative to the TriWest system, specializes in offering services to active duty families as well as retirees through a special Department of Defense contract that it has had for more than 30 years. After serving in King County for several years, PacMed expanded and moved south into Pierce County.

"Not many people are aware that we are an option," said John Ellis, marketing and public relations specialist for the USFHP.

The USFHP combines both the Medicare program and TRICARE into one program that offers more benefits. While Medicare may have limitations to things such as the length of a hospital stay, there are no limitations for USFHP families using PacMed.

One key feature of the USFHP is that it is a managed care program. That means a primary care doctor arranges and coordinates all the care that is needed.

"That feature is particularly important to elderly military beneficiaries. It is a very valuable benefit," Ellis said.

The care offered by PacMed is not just limited to retired Servicemembers - active-duty families are also welcome. Expectant military spouses who choose their care through a PacMed facility have the option of giving birth in a civilian hospital.

"We feel bringing health care closer to home, being more accessible and more convenient to families will encourage them to come," said Linda Marzano, chief operating officer and executive officer of the USFHP.

Another feature that may be appealing to military beneficiaries is same-day access to a primary care physician.

"We have a 99 percent same-day access rate, which is not very common in the community," Marzano said. "We are very proud of that."

Both PacMed and the USFHP take pride in their high patient satisfaction marks. "PacMed spends a lot of time focused on quality," Ellis said. "All of our doctors are board certified, and each year many of our doctors make the best doctor's list for the area."

During last week's ceremony, Sam Mack, a representative for Sen. Maria Cantwell, read a letter of support from Cantwell. Rick Ludwig, medical director of the USFHP, Puyallup Deputy Mayor John Knutson, and City Council member John Vermillion were also in attendance and helped cut the ribbon.

"Once patients understand who we are and enjoy their experience here, I think we will grow rapidly," Marzano said.

For more information, visit the Pacific Medical Center Puyallup at 220 15th Ave SE Suite C or call (253) 435-3400.

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