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New medical option coming

Pacific Medical prepares to open new Lakewood clinic

The Bridgeport Professional Building is the future home of Pacific Medical Centers’ South Sound clinic in Lakewood. Photo credit: James Williams

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In the Puget Sound area, it is estimated that the presence of military and former military personnel is significantly larger than in any other market. As this group continues to grow, it is a wonder why there are only two major locations off-base where military retirees and families of active-duty servicemembers are readily accepted for healthcare. Currently, in the Lakewood and Tacoma areas, the Franciscan Health communities of hospitals are the only locations where retirees and families may receive healthcare under the Uniformed Services Family Health Plan (USFHP).

Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed), a group well known for its support of the Armed Forces, hopes to change this statistic with a new medical clinic opening in Lakewood.

PacMed looks to open its South Sound clinic within the next few months. Crews working on the project expect the location to be ready to open by late March or early April of this year. This new location is expected to offer not only primary care facilities, but also behavioral medicine, physical therapy and rehabilitation areas. The new clinic will take up the first and second floors in the west wing of the current Bridgeport Professional Building at 7424 Bridgeport Way in Lakewood.

With the opening fast approaching, many of the employees are excited with the knowledge that they will be able to further their mission.

"Opening a clinic in Lakewood is an exciting growth opportunity for us, as we can better serve military patients and their families near Joint Base Lewis-McChord through our US Family Health Plan Program," said Linda Marzano, CEO of Pacific Medical Centers.

Though PacMed is a private, nonprofit organization with (currently) nine locations in the area, it is unclear how much impact the new clinic will have on retirees and family members of uniformed personnel. The new Lakewood location is near both the Madigan Army Medical Center and the VA's American Lake Hospital. PacMed has more than 150 primary care and specialty care professionals, so what positive impact could it have on healthcare for retirees and family members that is not already available?

One benefit is location: The new clinic is convenient not only for residents of Tacoma and Lakewood, but it is also quite convenient for residents of University Place. Many families using the USFHP living in these areas have, until now, only had the option of visiting Franciscan-run medical facilities. Additionally, PacMed may have a larger impact than expected: The USFHP is a widely held health plan for retirees and families, and the new clinic could lead to less wait time and more readily available appointments at Madigan and American Lake.

While this benefit may not have been a part of PacMed's plan, it could allow for better healthcare for former servicemembers. The option of a Pacific Medical Clinic within the Lakewood area also adds options for family members of former servicemembers. Currently, the only area readily available to family members is St. Clare's in Lakewood or St. Joseph's in Tacoma (both operated by Franciscan Health). While the opening of this new clinic is still a few months away, the possible impacts on the healthcare of military personnel and their families seem to only be a positive.

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