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Urgent care in St. Helens to close, relocate to Scappoose

Closure date unknown, Legacy Health officials sign lease for Scappoose location

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - The Legacy Health urgent care clinic in St. Helens will be closing and relocating to Scappoose, likely in  summer. Legacy officials plan to open more primary and specialty care facilities once the urgent care clinic is moved.The Legacy Health urgent care clinic in St. Helens is likely to close this summer, with plans in the works to move the urgent care facility to Scappoose by early fall, a spokeswoman for the health care network confirmed Monday, Feb. 15.

In early February, officials at Portland-based Legacy Health decided to move the urgent care clinic in St. Helens to Scappoose to expand primary and specialty care services at the St. Helens location, Amber Shoebridge, a public and community relations consultant for Legacy Medical Group, said Monday.

The portion of Legacy Health in St. Helens that provides primary care services, and some specialty care services, will remain open at its current location at 500 N. Columbia River Highway.

A final date for the St. Helens urgent care clinic’s closure has not been determined.

Shoebridge confirmed in an email that Legacy Health signed a lease for a location in Scappoose near the Fred Meyer grocery store, off Highway 30. The company also signed a contract with an architectural firm to begin the project’s design and permitting process, she said.

Despite Legacy Health’s organizational goal to open more GoHealth Urgent Care clinics in the Portland metropolitan area, it is not expected to adopt the GoHealth model for urgent care services in Scappoose, Shoebridge said.

GoHealth, a retail-based urgent care provider financed by a private investment firm, has partnered with the Legacy Health network to operate urgent care facilities in 12 locations in Oregon, predominately in the Portland metropolitan area.

In December, Brian Terrett, the communications and public relations director for Legacy Health, said Legacy officials had been discussing potentially relocating the urgent care center, but said no decisions had been made and no finances had been budgeted for a move.

While Shoebridge could not provide specifics on the size or location of the facility in Scappoose, she said the urgent care center would continue to offer the same level of service access currently available at its facility in St. Helens.

In 2015, 10,118 people received services at the St. Helens urgent care clinic, according to Shoebridge. Of those patients, 96 percent arrived by car, she said, indicating that access to the facility planned for Scappoose is not expected to be an obstacle.

“I know that Legacy is hoping that they move with us,” Shoebridge said of the urgent care clinic users who live in St. Helens

Columbia County Commissioner Henry Heimuller, however, said transportation for St. Helens residents to a Scappoose urgent care center is a concern, despite the assertion from Legacy.

While Scappoose may only be 7 miles away, he said, for groups of people with limited access to transportation, like elderly or low-income individuals, that distance can be a barrier.

“But when you’re talking about a whole other group of folks, who may be veterans, [for whom] transportation might be the barrier, who might not have family who can drive them, that’s a big deal,” Heimuller said.

Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, echoed Heimuller’s sentiments, and said figuring out a reliable transportation system for patients who can’t drive themselves is paramount.

“There are going to be a lot of logistical issues to work out,” Johnson said. “Not the least of which is transportation.”

By moving the urgent care clinic, Heimuller said it would also have the effect of greatly reducing St. Helens residents’ access to medical care in sudden and severe situations, a service he said would be sorely missed.