Meeting patients in their neighborhoods joins care with convenience

July 30, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Avera.

Convenience stores get their name for a reason – and there’s a reason why Sioux Falls has so many. They are a handy hub for gas, milk and snacks. Everyone likes easy access and not just with retail essentials. This modern mind-set has informed the concept of neighborhood health care centers.

People pick providers who practice close to their home or where they work. The idea of neighborhood care – of having the professionals people seek conveniently located within the community – is one Avera continues to develop as its sites thrive in Sioux Falls.

“Putting primary health care services people need close by is part of our mission as a health system. Taking care of people is all about building relationships,” said Mark Vortherms, Avera Medical Group vice president of primary care. “Where your doctor is located is an important part of that – people want access, and they want to know their provider. Sioux Falls is growing, but it still has rural roots. Local physicians echo that idea of the small-town doc that everyone knows, even in a larger metropolitan area.”

Benefits on all sides

Access to health care is more than convenience.

“When you can get your appointment and all that goes with it – from mammography to labs or a strep test for a child – all in one place, you’re going to prevent some illnesses and be in better general health,” said Dr.  Carilyn Van Kalsbeek, a family medicine/OB physician who works at a neighborhood clinic, Avera Medical Group McGreevy 69th and Western.

“People are complex, and when we can understand them as a whole and develop relationships with them and their families, we can give better care.”

When developing neighborhood Avera Medical Group clinics such as the one on Marion Road, Avera leaders consciously focused on including combinations of expertise that include family practice, internal medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics and more, Vortherms said. Others sites include Avera Medical Group 69th and Cliff Avenue and Avera Medical Group McGreevy 7th Avenue. Neighborhood clinics with primary care and other services are commonplace in other parts of Sioux Falls and across Avera’s Midwestern footprint.

“Our neighborhood clinics can work as one unit, providing convenience as well as thorough care that can serve a population with preventive approaches and proactive services,” he said. “We also provide the services such as laboratory, imaging and all that goes with it, from pediatrics and family practice care to obstetrics and internal medicine care for adults of any age.”

Comfort comes with the convenience.

“When patients recognize the people who greet them at the front desk and know where everything is in their local clinic, they are more at ease,” Van Kalsbeek said. “They develop a connection to the place, the professionals who work there, and that ‘feel’ they gain is a good thing for them and for us as providers.”

Community services beyond individuals

Avera has additional clinics at Sioux Falls sites that include the east-side Dawley Farm Village and on West Benson Road, and clinics in surrounding towns, including Harrisburg, Tea and Brandon. “Caring for people holistically is part of our mission,” Vortherms said.

“As a family care provider, I see it in my patients that while they want the convenience of our clinic, they also appreciate having so many services, including care coordinators who can guide them, all at our health center,” said Dr. Jonathon Bannwarth, a family medicine physician at Avera Medical Group Family Health Center on Marion Road.

“This sort of care goes beyond the patient-provider aspect to a more holistic, community-focused set of services, including mental health, imaging and other things that expand past the routine exam.”

When patients do not have to fuss with frequent crosstown trips, it can lead to better outcomes.

“I’ve found they are more apt to follow up or to comply with my recommendations because of the ease of coming back to see me or someone at our facility,” Bannwarth said. “We are meeting them where they live – and that helps them out and adds up to better health.”

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Meeting patients in their neighborhoods joins care with convenience

“When patients recognize the people who greet them at the front desk and know where everything is in their local clinic, they are more at ease.” It’s a modern mind-set that has led Avera to locate many services close to where you live.

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