In 1979, two physicians finished residency training in Spokane in the relatively new specialty of Family Medicine. They wanted to bring those skills to a rural community and chose Port Angeles, hanging out their shingle in a small house on 16th and C streets.
They, and those of us who later joined their partnership, became Family Medicine of Port Angeles and practiced the principles at the heart of good primary care – providing high-quality care for people regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or presenting complaint in a continuous, caring, personal relationship.
Nearly 40 years, more than 10,000 patients and thousands of delivered babies later, Family Medicine’s dedication to those primary care principles remained unwavering, even in the face of momentous changes with health care.
But, the growing number of uninsured and under-insured people in the community struggling to access basic health care, moved us to pursue a path to transform to a Community Health Center model. We became the first, and remain the only, Federally Qualified Health Center in Clallam County.
The Community Health Center model allows us to expand access to healthcare to those for whom it has previously been out of reach. It provides improved funding, support, and incentives to attract and retain physicians, as well as allows us to provide expanded services for our patients, including behavioral health and oral health services, nurse care management, and community resource navigators – all services that help us fulfill our core mission.
As a reflection of this transformation we took on a new name – North Olympic Healthcare Network. Although the name is new, our mission is not. We carry forward Family Medicine’s values, commitment, and its staff. Our excellent care is now accessible to many, many more people.