PRH acquires Palouse Health Clinic, patients

Hospital paid $70,000 in grant money to buy building equipment

LAUREN ELLENBECKER, Evergreen reporter

Pullman Regional Hospital is taking ownership of the Palouse Health Center to avoid it closing down in its owner’s absence.

Megan Guido, PRH chief marketing and community relations officer, said the PHC president and administrator approached the hospital in spring 2019 about taking over the practice. She said the president, Sandra Schorzman, was retiring and did not want patients on the Palouse to lose access to care.

“This was a provider coming to us to help avoid closing down a clinic,” Guido said. “We want to continue to provide access to primary care, which is especially so important in rural areas.”

The PHC is closed for remodeling and is scheduled to open in the spring, she said. The community will be notified when an opening date is determined.

Karly Port, executive director of the PRH clinic network, said adding the center to the hospital’s clinical network means it’s going to be an extension of Pullman Family Medicine. The PRH clinic network will still accept patients’ insurance, and billing will be processed by the clinic network.

PRH must explore what people on the Palouse need relative to health care, she said. They weren’t able to get a client list before Schorzman retired, Port said.

“We’re going to have it be a collaborative effort to see what the need really is,” she said. “This is just PRH ensuring there is care close to home [for the PHC clients].”

The hospital is adding a nurse practitioner and physician assistant from Pullman Family Medicine to the PHC’s current one-person staff, she said. The PHC’s office manager is staying to help with the transition, Guido said.

PHC asked clients to establish connections with the future staff members by going to Pullman Family Medicine until the PHC is reopened, Guido said.

PRH used about $70,000 in grant money from the Greater Columbia Accountable Community of Health, Port said. She added the grant is specifically used for changing the delivery of care to reduce health disparities within communities. The money was used to purchase the PHC’s building and equipment, she said.

PHC will be open three days a week when operations begin in the spring, Port said. PRH wants to extend the center’s hours to four days a week in the future.