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Medical teaching clinic finds natural fit in Beaverton

NCNM to show facility to public at open house

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - National College of Natural Medicine fifth-year student Irina Mikhailichenko, left, practices checking a fellow student's heartbeat under the watch of doctor Jessica Nagelkirk in the college's new Beaverton location.If the nearly 400 patients who sought out treatment at the National College of Natural Medicine’s temporary clinic space at the Elsie Stuhr Center are any indication, Beaverton residents are more than ready to embrace holistic, naturopathic-based health care.

The Southwest Portland-based school and clinic responded to the popularity of its services at Beaverton’s senior activities center by opening a permanent teaching clinic in Beaverton at 11975 S.W. Second St. in July. The college welcomes the public to celebrate the new facility at an open house event on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. The free event will feature refreshments, raffle prizes, blood glucose and blood pressure readings and four presentations by local naturopathic medicine teachers and practitioners. Topics include diabetes and naturopathic medicine; health, well-being and classical Chinese medicine; hormonal therapies and natural options for menopause; and a talk on “Finding Harmony in the Autumn.”

Located on the first floor of a commercial building next to Beaverton’s Social Security Administration office, the 1,760-square-foot NCNM Beaverton Clinic is the school’s second natural medicine teaching clinic and its first outside of Portland city limits. The space features five examination rooms, a conference room and small waiting area.

The clinic, which also provides free parking, offers naturopathic medicine practice from licensed primary care physicians, laboratory services, a discounted herbal “medicinary,” or herbal pharmacy. A range of commercial insurance plans are accepted, as well as Oregon Health Plan Open Card and CareOregon patients. Payment options, including financial assistance, are available for those in need.

“We’re still adding on services and treatment options,” said Lori Knowles, NCNM’s community clinics manager. “We’re still building momentum.”

The new clinic replaces a temporary clinic space at the Stuhr Center on Southwest Hall Boulevard, where NCNM offered low-cost health services for uninsured and underserved patients starting in 2011.

“A lot of those patients migrated over here,” Knowles noted. “They like having more flexibility and more options.”

A different model

The clinic allows the college’s bilingual staff and practitioners to see patients in a fully appointed medical facility while expanding the school’s ability to see others in the community who want to experience natural medicine.

The clinic’s naturopathic physicians are licensed in Oregon to prescribe and review pharmaceutical medications in addition to herbal medications to treat conditions from allergies, colds and flu, to chronic and acute ailments such as diabetes, and gastrointestinal and heart disease.

NCNM President David J. Schleich said the Beaverton facility will appeal to local patients familiar with naturopathic and holistic treatment as well as new patients who are curious but have not ventured beyond conventional Western medicine.

“By expanding our campus with a new location in Beaverton, we’re improving our ability to offer low-cost natural medicine to Washington County’s growing population, some of whom remain uninsured due to language and cultural barriers,” he said. “At the same time, we’re increasing the opportunity to serve insured new patients who want holistic health care but are unable to travel to our Portland campus clinic.”

Rather than just treating symptoms after they’ve developed, the holistic approach is designed to explore root causes of health problems and create a comprehensive treatment strategy that encompasses diet, exercise, practices such as acupuncture and massage and the use of vitamins and herbal medicines.

“Because this is a teaching-clinic model that concentrates on really thorough, holistic treatment by examining root causes and developing a treatment plan, patients love it because they’re getting so much attention,” Knowles said. “It’s a very different model.”

Successful switch

Beaverton resident Becky Richter, who learned about NCNM from her sister, a patient at the Elsie Stuhr community clinic, said she found relief from digestive discomfort that conventional medical doctors couldn’t seem to diagnose or treat, through the clinic’s approach.

“Not only could I see naturopathic physicians, but I could get tests and labs at reduced rates,” she said, noting items her insurance company wouldn’t cover. “It was really nice to access a clinic that provided good care, along with medical labs and tests that I could pay for.”

With public perceptions about naturopathic medicine changing, and the Affordable Care Act compelling more insurance plans to cover holistic health services, NCNM is poised to carve a growing service niche in the Beaverton area.

“I think this is a great facility,” said Jessica Nagelkirk, an attending physician at the new clinic. “It sets itself up really well for primary care. We can see a diverse population — people with mental and emotional problems, people with diabetes — and offer alternative treatment options.

“This is also good for people who don’t have transportation, where that’s a barrier to their care,” she added. “Come see us, and let our students practice.”

Check it out

What: Open house event at National College of Natural Medicine’s new Beaverton Clinic

Where: 11975 S.W. Second St., next to Social Security Administration office at Lombard Avenue

When: Saturday, Oct. 18, 1 to 5 p.m.

Offerings: Refreshments, raffle prizes, free blood pressure and glucose screenings, four health-related presentations by holistic medicine professionals

For more information, visit: ncnm-clinic.com/beaverton-clinic

Call: 503-552-1515

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