Guide to Healthcare near Port Ludlow

There are many things to consider when it comes to making a move to a new town, from taxes and real estate values, to recreational activities, climate and access to good health care. While healthcare facilities are important at any stage in life, they’re particularly relevant if you’re nearing or have reached retirement age, or have children.

With health care costs skyrocketing, choosing a place to live that has quality health care will give you the best bang for your buck as well as ensure you’re in the hands of outstanding care providers. Easy access to good healthcare can exponentially improve your quality of life, and a better quality of life is the reason so many have chosen to make Port Ludlow their home.

This guide can help you understand your options before making a move, as well as once you’ve settled in.

Jefferson County Healthcare

Jefferson Healthcare Foundation and Jefferson Healthcare serves Jefferson County’s population of about 30,000 – the oldest population in the state, which is projected to increase from 26% to an estimated 40% over the next 10 to 20 years. With that, the county has been working on expanding healthcare services throughout the region, particularly those associated with primary care, orthopedics, cardiology and oncology, to meet the growing needs.

Some of that expansion has happened recently, though Port Ludlow residents can expect much more in the near future.

Jefferson Healthcare

Jefferson Healthcare, based in Port Townsend, is the northern Olympic Peninsula’s only ISO 9001 accredited system (ISO 9001 is a set of international standards on quality management and quality assurance developed to help organizations effectively document the quality system elements to be implemented to maintain an efficient quality system). The process of becoming ISO-certified, requires hospitals to follow a set of standard rules and develop procedures to help protect and serve our patients. ISO 9001 is different than other quality certification programs, as it requires continuous improvement of all processes. That means that facilities can’t simply meet the standards to earn certification, and then simply forget about it. Even after standards are met, they’re required to keep getting better.

Jefferson Healthcare is also DNV accredited, a health care-specific accreditation that is important as it means the facilities meet certain standards that assure safe healthcare.

There are other critical reasons to look for DNV accreditation, including:

In order to bill patients who have Medicare and/or Medicaid, the hospital must be an approved provider with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). To be approved, the facility must have accreditation from one of the only two approved CMS approved organizations: DNV, or The Joint Commission and the American Osteopathic Association. CMS has strict criteria to be met and the oversight of the deemed accreditation organizations, providing further assurance to patients as well as ensuring medical claims are paid.

Accreditation also provides patients the confidence that the hospital you’re seeking care from has been approved to handle your particular health care needs, in accordance to specific requirements.

Jefferson Healthcare is a public hospital which provides services to east Jefferson County residents. It has nine clinics throughout Jefferson County, including one in Port Ludlow, as well as a nationally recognized award-winning Home Health service provider, and a hospice office. There is a full service orthopedic clinic, and an oncology clinic that administers infusion services of chemotherapy, immunotherapy and other treatments. The Medical Short Stay offers wound care, sleep medicine, Coumadin and anti-coagulation services, and there are a number of Wellness programs available too, which include community education and a wide range of support groups.

A brand new 52,900-square-foot Emergency and Specialty Services building (ESSB) at the hospital in Port Townsend just opened last fall.

In an October 2016 press release, CEO Mike Glenn noted: “We’re pretty serious about helping people get and stay well, and wanted to build a care environment reflective of this. Our community is fortunate to have outstanding providers and extraordinary staff; now we have a state-of-the-art building that is worthy of the care they provide.”

Glenn also says that they’re “not just investing in the here and now,” but that the expansion is about meeting the needs of the community over the next decade.

According to Jefferson Healthcare, the patient-focused expansion for its emergency care and outpatient services was provided to offer a centralized location, with better access to key outpatient services, such as emergency services, oncology, orthopedics, cardiology, lab draws and select diagnostic imaging, according to Jefferson Healthcare. The hospital’s new main patient entrance is in this new building, which faces Manresa Castle, can be accessed off Sheridan Avenue and Seventh Street.

The new building offers some unique features to benefit patients, including cancer treatment spaces on the third floor overlooking Port Townsend Bay, and a green roof of sedum plants which can be seen by both the second and third floors. Scientific studies have shown that just being able to view plants can lead to reduced pain and stress, less fatigue, lower anxiety levels, shorter hospitalization and ultimately, boosting the immune system to encourage your body to heal. The hospital also now has raised garden beds that the dietary team uses to grow herbs for use in meals served in its café.

Jefferson Healthcare has been the recipient of multiple awards as well. Some of which have included

2014 – Achieving Best Care, by the Washington State Hospital Association

2013 – Top 7 WA Hospitals for Surgery, by Consumer Reports

2015, 2014 – Jefferson Healthcare Home Health named Top Agency of HomeCare Elite

2016 – Get with the Guidelines Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award by the American Heart Association/America Stroke Association

Port Ludlow Medical Clinic

The new Port Ludlow Clinic offers a variety of services Port Ludlow residents can access close to home, located on 9481 Oak Bay Road, just across from Port Ludlow Village. It includes six exam rooms, a procedure room, consultation office, lab draw station and X-ray services.

If you need a blood draw, there’s no reason to drive to Port Townsend, or somewhere else, as they’re available every weekday. You can also get your flu shots here, as well as access specialist services, including cardiology and anticoagulation services.

Primary care providers at this facility include Family Medicine physicians Shannon Kirchner, MD and C. Wesley Schott, ARNP. Cardiologist David Tinker, MD, is the visiting specialist from Harrison Health Partners.

Harrison Hospital Expansion

The state recently signed off on a proposal for Harrison Medical Center to build a new hospital in Silverdale, which will provide even more options for Port Ludlow residents, who live about halfway between Port Townsend, which hosts Jefferson Healthcare, and Silverdale.

Local media outlets report that the $500 million expansion in Silverdale will include private patient rooms, a Level III trauma center and heart and cancer care centers, among other services. Construction is already underway on Myhre Road, beginning with the parking garage. Harrison President David Schultz noted that a ceremonial groundbreaking likely will be held in September 2017.

The first phase of expansion also involves constructing a nine-story hospital tower, which CHI Franciscan hopes to complete by early 2020, while second phase of construction in Silverdale, targeted for completion in 2023, will add another tower.

Harrison Medical Center is a not-for-profit hospital and the largest medical center in the region, currently with four campuses serving Kitsap, Mason, and Jefferson counties. It includes more than 400 physicians representing 40 specialties, medical and surgical services, cardiovascular services, orthopedics, oncology, and 24-hour emergency care in Silverton and Bremerton.

The facility also hosts support groups, classes and workshops in the area, including an advanced cancer support group in Silverdale, online and phone support groups for caregivers, a grief support group in Poulsbo, and many others. A full list can be found here.

Emergency Services and EMT Accessibility

The Port Ludlow Fire and Rescue Department does a lot more than fight fires, it also provides emergency medical services to the community. With a population of under 3,000, Port Ludlow residents can feel secure knowing that they can count on a professional arriving quickly. The department also added a brand new ambulance in 2016, allowing the district to rotate ambulances to reduce wear and tear and to be sure they can get where they need to be.

Basic Life Support Units staffed by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) provide help for non-life threatening events like injuries, illnesses and minor automobile accidents. The EMTs are go through an extensive training course and must pass a written and practical exam, as well as getting re-certified every three years. There are also Advanced Life Support Units staffed by paramedics and firefighters who undergo even more extensive training and are certified by the state. They are required to attend continuing education programs and are re-certified every three years. Those that staff the ALS Units can start IVs, administer medications, interpret EKGs, defibrillate a patient's heart, perform emergency cardioversion, external pacing of the heart, endotracheal intubation, and chest decompression.

Port Ludow Fire & Rescue is also able to provide advanced cardiac care, working together with Harrison Medical Center, Kitsap Cardiology and the Poulsbo Doctors Clinic to create protocols that allow paramedics to administer a wide range of medications. Those drugs include thrombolytics or "clot busters,” that are known to destroy a blood clot blocking blood and oxygen to the heart, and provide immediate treatment during a heart attack. Ambulances are also outfitted with telemetry systems that allow physicians and paramedics to follow a course of action designed to treat patients with lifesaving drugs they arrive at the designated cardiac care facility.

Air Life

There are some medical emergencies that require rapid transport that can only be provided by a helicopter flight. These services are typically supplied by Airlift Northwest, but in special circumstances may be performed by the Navy or United States Coast Guard. East Jefferson Fire-Rescue sets up landing zones and fire protection for these landings at the hospital, airport and in field locations throughout the district, depending on the patient’s location.

As lifesaving air medical transport can be expensive and insurance may not cover all costs, Airlift Northwest offers memberships, currently at $79 per year, which can remove that financial burden. It may be worth considering, as the company works directly with insurance companies for processing claims, and will cover the patient responsibility amount indicated by the explanation of benefits for all emergent and medically necessary air medical transport services that are provided to the closest, most appropriate facility. Membership includes coverage for all household members.

Home Health Care

Home health care in Port Ludlow and the surrounding area, can be categorized as either non-medical home care or Medicare certified, home health. Non-medical home care includes things like personal care and help with everyday activities, while Medicare certified home health care can range from skilled nursing to physical/occupational therapy. Home health care is often the safest and most affordable solution for supporting a family, allowing your loved one to remain in the comfort of their home. If you live alone and find yourself in need, it can allow you to remain independent, and offer caring companionship too.

Home health care can offer:

  • Assistance with activities of daily living can include bathing, grooming, and medication reminders 
  • Access to skilled nursing care at home
  • Support with diet and nutrition
  • Help with light household chores
  • Social interaction, including reading, playing games, going for walks, watching movies, shopping and more
  • A more affordable alternative to hospital or other facility care – the National Association of Home Care reports that the average cost of home health care per visit is $132, whereas a skilled nursing facility is $544 per day

Fortunately, Port Ludlow residents that need help with such things as preparing meals, personal care such as bathing and dressing, and housekeeping, as well as skilled nursing, have multiple options.

Home care agencies, licensed by Washington State, train, pay, supervise and are responsible for the care provided by the professional sent to your home. You can also find, hire, train, pay, and supervise an aide yourself. 

Volunteer chore services also exist for low income adults who can’t afford to pay for such services but don’t qualify for other state assistance. These volunteers can help with things like shopping, yard care, minor home repairs, personal care, transportation and general household chores. In Port Ludlow, OlyCAP, which can be reached via email at [email protected] or cby phone at 360-452-4726, is a good option, as is ECHHO (Ecumenical Christian Helping Hands Organization): 360-379-3246 or [email protected].

With such a wide range of options for finding help at home, one of the easiest ways to select the one that’s right for you is to consider both the needs of the person to be cared for, and the current caregiver’s needs (if there is one), as well. There are multiple online checklists that can be found by searching terms like “assessing home care needs” on Google that will assist you in evaluating the options – AARP offers a good list here.

In general, things to think about include health care specifically, such as doctor’s appointments, medication management and physical therapy, as well as personal care like eating, bathing, going to the toilet and dressing; emotional care such as conversation and companionship, and household care like shopping, laundry, cooking and cleaning.

Of course it’s also essential to evaluate the values and preferences of the person receiving care. Some people have a preference for a male or female caregiver, and sharing a similar cultural background and/or other interests may be helpful as well. Conducting such an assessment might open up other, alternative options too, like meals-on-wheels programs, visiting services, adult day care, etc.

Here’s a closer look on the options to consider:

Skilled Nursing Care. For those that require skilled nursing care, such as giving injections and wound care, you’ll need to contact a home health agency. In east Jefferson County, Jefferson Healthcare Home Health is the primary option, Medicare-certified with a team of nurses, therapists, certified nursing assistants and other healthcare professionals that provide a full range of services, including:

  • Licensed home health nurses that can assist with medication management, IV antibiotics, would care, and catheter changes.
  • Licensed physical and occupational therapists which not only provide strengthening and home exercise programs but safe assessments and home modification recommendations.
  • Licensed speech therapists for assessing and treating speech and swallowing difficulties, as well as coming up with strategies for improving memory.
  • Certified nursing assistants that can help improve one’s ability to bathe and take care of personal hygiene independently.
  • Professional medical social workers that can provide counseling on financial and emotional support, as well as connect you to other community resources.

2015 marked the second consecutive year Jefferson Healthcare Home Health was recognized for its outstanding performance, awarded as a Top Agency by Home Care Elite, a recognition of the top performing home health agencies in the United States. 

Private Home Health Care Workers. Another option is to private hire a home health care worker. You can advertise your particular requirements and hire the one that best suits your needs. This offers a number of benefits, including being less expensive than going through an agency, and the chance to choose the person you think will be best to provide the care. The downside is that it may not be covered by insurance, and if the person becomes ill there may not be a substitute available. You’ll also have to screen, hire/fire, pay and handle the taxes involved.

Adult Day Care. Adult day care can offer a respite for full-time caregivers, OlyCap offers Encore!, an adult social day care program that includes nutritious meals and the chance to learn new skills as well as re-use old skills. It also offers a special program, “Arts and Minds Early Memory Loss Program,” which utilizes creative arts as tools for improving and maintaining cognitive functioning, optimizing abilities and lessening stress. Considered “fitness for the brain,” participants enjoy things like singing, writing songs, composing poems, telling stories, drawing, drumming to stimulate the brain in a fun way.

Companion Services. Companion services include regular visits and/or phone calls to those who live alone or are unable to leave their home. Sometimes this also includes transportation services and things like helping with shopping. Both OlyCap and ECHHO may be able to help if this is the type of service you’re looking for.

Home delivered meals. This service provides nutritious meals to those who have difficulty leaving their home. OlyCap offers Home-Delivered Nutrition Services (HDNS) providing healthy meals that are delivered to individuals in their homes, and other nutrition services to older persons who are normally unable to leave their homes without assistance.

Also keep in mind that those who are on Medicaid and receiving funds to pay for long term care services may also be eligible for the Nurse Delegation Program. With this program, a caregiver may be trained to help with some types of nursing care tasks in your home.

Getting to and from healthcare appointments without driving

There are a number of options when it comes to transportation services to help you get to and from your healthcare appointments if you don’t want to, or are unable to drive.

OlyCAP. In addition to providing home care services in Clallam and Jefferson Counties, including respite care, OlyCAP provides transportation to local medical appointments. For more information you can email [email protected] or call 360-452-4726.

ECHHO. ECHHO (Ecumenical Christian Helping Hands Organization), provides a variety of services, including lending medical equipment to area residents as well as giving rides to medical appointments (both in and out of county) and necessary errands. ECHHO requires notice of at least two business days for local trips and more advanced notice for appointments that are outside of the county. Call 360-379-3246 or email [email protected].

Public transportation. Jefferson Transit offers service to and from Port Ludlow as well on Route #7, with stops on Anchor and Breaker Lanes. Fixed route service can bring you to within a few blocks of most places in Port Townsend, and there is also service to Irondale, Chimacum and Port Hadlock. Other routes can connect you with service east to Seattle, south to Olympia and west, to the towns along the Pacific coast. There are also door-to-door Dial a Ride services for those with disability. Visit the Jefferson Transit website here for more information, or call 360-385-4777.

Rocket Transportation. Rocket offers door-to-door shuttle service, with all shuttles lit equipped. Available by reservation, it includes services to hospitals throughout the county as well as the Puget Sound area.

Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) Transportation services. The HCA covers non-emergency medical transportation for those who are eligible, including those in the Apple Health (Medicaid) and other state-funded medical assistance programs that include a transportation benefit. It’s generally authorized, and covered, for those who have no other means to access medical care. The most common types of transportation available include public transit, taxi, wheelchair van or accessible vehicle, commercial bus and air, and ferry tickets.

Pharmacies and Pharmacy Home Delivery

There are a number of pharmacies in the local area. The closest are in Port Hadlock and include:

  • Tri-Area Pharmacy, 65 Oak Bay Road
  • QFC Pharmacy at 1890 Irondale Road

Port Townsend also offers two pharmacies:

  • Safeway Pharmacy, 442 West Sims Way
  • Don’s Pharmacy, 1151 Water Street

Home Delivery Service. There are multiple pharmacies that offer home delivery service, which can be particularly convenient for those who are prescribed maintenance medications, as well as patients who receive 90-day supplies of a prescription. Depending on your insurer, discounts can also be significant, especially when it comes to certain generic medications that you take regularly for chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. For those medications, you may be able to order a three-month supply of some types for a co-payment of just a few dollars, or even $0 in some cases, including free shipping.

If you’d prefer having your prescriptions delivered to you rather than having to drive to the drugstore, it certainly seems like a win-win situation, but there are a few important things to keep in mind.

  1. Before signing up, be sure that you’ll actually benefit financially, by comparing what your insurer’s mail order pharmacy will charge, including shipping, with the cost at the local pharmacy – be sure to figure in the cost of getting there, including your time.
  2. Many insurance companies now offer 90-day fills at local pharmacies for prices that are comparable to mail order. Check with your individual health plan to see where you can get 90-day fills at the best rates.
  3. If you’ve already developed a good relationship with your local pharmacist, are happy with it, and your medications are reasonably priced, switching to mail order may not make sense. While mail order pharmacies have pharmacists on staff that can answer your question, many people prefer face-to-face, personal interactions.
  4. As most mail order programs ship a 90-day supply of medications at a time, this option may not be feasible for drugs that you need right away, or are only taking for brief periods, such as antibiotics for an infection or drugs prescribed following surgery.
  5. If you're currently covered under an insurance plan, you may also be eligible to take advantage of additional savings provided using some of these services. Be sure to check with the particular pharmacy you’re considering as well as your insurance company. Some plans restrict coverage for home delivery, even when that same prescription is covered if you were to pick it up at the store.
  6. Keep the downsides in mind. There are a number of downsides to mail deliver, such as miscommunications, and medications that don’t always arrive on time, and that can be dangerous for those who rely on them. You can help avoid a delay by ordering well in advance (at least two weeks before running out if you aren’t set up for automatic refills. Some mail order pharmacies have also been known to send out prescriptions through auto-renewal without checking to see if you’re still taking the medication, of if the dosage has changed. This isn’t the case with Medicare Part D drug plans, as they now require mail order pharmacies to get the okay from the patient before shipping a new prescription or refill.
  7. If you decide to get your regular medications through mail order delivery, but still occasionally use a traditional pharmacy, it’s essential to let both pharmacies know about all of the medications you’re taking, and keep them updated regularly, so that you can be alerted to possible interactions.

Home Delivery Service and Medicare. All Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans offer access to mail order prescription services, allowing you to order up to three months of prescribed medications at a time. This service typically offers cost savings as well. Orders can be placed online, over the phone or through the mail – just remember to place them well in advance. Medicare recommends placing your order at least two weeks before your prescription runs out. Call your Medicare drug plan to find out the specific coverage rules for your plan.

Tips For Finding a New Doctor in the Port Ludlow Area

When moving to a new area, one of the top concerns for many is finding a new doctor. As most people know more about how to purchase a new vehicle than about selecting a doctor, it can be a rather difficult task, but following these tips can make the process a whole lot easier. Smart questions, along with a bit of healthy skepticism, can help you find the healthcare provider that’s right for you.

Do some research before you move.  While it may not always be possible, it’s worth doing some research before you move, as your current provider may have a connection in east Jefferson County through a fellowship program, medical school, networking and so on. You don’t have to limit yourself to asking your current doctor, check with nurses and other healthcare professionals too. If you’ve made any connections with people in your new hometown, find out the names of doctors they like and trust.

Check with your insurance. Once you have some names, search your insurer’s directory to find out which doctors are in your network. As they tend to frequently drop and add plans, it’s also important to call the office to verify that they do accept your insurance.

Use Google. If you weren’t able to get the names of trusted physicians, or your list is limited, you may want to search the doctors that accept your insurance by doing a bit of Googling. Most these days have at least some online presence that can provide valuable clues. You might even be able to turn up some online reviews, on consumer feedback sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. If there are a lot of bad reviews, it’s certainly a red flag, but keep in mind that people are much more likely to take the time to leave a negative review than a positive one. Healthgrades.com is an easy-to-use site that can turn up helpful information. You can search my name, specialty, procedure or condition and get information on affiliated hospitals, education, sanctions, malpractice claims and board actions, as well as office locations, and insurance plans.

In the process of Googling, if you locate any research papers he or she has authored, you may be able to get a better idea of his or her strengths.

Check board certifications. If the physician is certified through the American Board of Medical Specialties that means the doctor has earned a medical degree from a qualified medical school, completed three to seven years of accredited residency training, is licensed by a state medical board, and has passed one or more exams administered by a member of the ABMS. To maintain that certification, a doctor is also expected to participate in continuing education. You can find out if a doctor is certified by searching certificationmatters.org.

Look into malpractice claims and disciplinary actions. The first place to go to check into problems your potential doctor may have faced, is the Washington State medical board. Washington physicians are licensed by Medical Quality Assurance Commission (MQAC). Washington providers can be checked here. Search on the healthcare provider’s last name and first initial. If there is a red “yes,” under action taken, that provider has been investigated and disciplined, or has agreed to a Stipulation in Lieu of Discipline. If there is a “no,” that means that provider hasn’t been disciplined, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t under investigation. You can find out by contacting the MQAC Customer Service Center at 360-263-4700.

It’s a bit more difficult to find out if a provider has been sued for malpractice, as the records aren’t available to the public. You can, however, visit the Washington Courts website at www.courts.wa.gov, select “search case records” and the search for the provider by name under “access court records.” If something turns up, understand that even good doctors can get sued once or twice, but you definitely don’t want someone who’s had lots of malpractice claims.

Ask questions. Once you’ve narrowed your list down, it’s time to make phone calls to find out more about the total experience. Ask how long it takes to get in for a routine visit, whether or not same-day appointments are offered, and the average time patients are kept in the waiting room. You’ll also get an idea of how friendly and efficient the office staff is – even if the doctor is outstanding, if the staff seems rude, uncaring or unwilling to get answers when they don’t have, that can have a big negative impact on your overall care and the experience. These are the people that will be checking you in and out, scheduling your appointments, giving your doctor messages, addressing insurance concerns, etc.