OCEAN PARK — The groundbreaking event took less than 20 minutes and was attended by fewer than two dozen people. The benefits, however, will be felt for years, improving life for thousands. On Wednesday, June 14, construction commenced on a new medical clinic and pharmacy at the main intersection in Ocean Park.

“We’re gathered here today in the heart of Ocean Park to celebrate two beginnings — one for the pharmacy and one for the hospital medical group in a new clinic,” said Larry Cohen, Ocean Beach Hospital chief executive officer. The new 8,860-square-foot Ocean Beach Medical Group-Ocean Park Clinic will house Ocean Park Pharmacy on the lower floor and have medical offices and nine exam rooms on the second, complete with an ocean view.

Completion is set for early December.

Cohen estimated the new clinic could serve up to 5,000 patients annually, helping ease congestion and service constraints at Ocean Beach Hospital and Clinic in Ilwaco.

“Opening this clinic will help us decompress the main building,” Cohen said. “We’re just jammed packed in Ilwaco.”

Cohen said the new clinic and pharmacy will serve around 50 percent of the Peninsula’s estimated 11,000 permanent residents, giving the those on the north end a medical-care option closer to home.

“About half of the patients that come down to the clinic in Ilwaco come from north of Tides West [at 194th Street and Sandridge],” Cohen said. “We think there will be 40 or 50 car trips a day that won’t have to go to Ilwaco. Whether it’s for an exam by a physician or blood test, you can do it here.”

The new medical building will also provide 10 new jobs. Nine will be with the clinic and one position with the pharmacy.

“We’re thrilled we can bring care close to home,” said Ocean Beach Hospital Commissioner Nancy Gorshe. “Two of our big strategies as a board have been to increase primary care and keep care close to home.”

Construction of the new medical clinic is remarkable, particularly for a rural community, project partners said.

“This will be the first expansion of services in Pacific County in over a decade — it might be two decades,” said Jeff Harrell, a pharmacist and co-owner of Peninsula Pharmacies.

“Our clinic providers have an excellent relationship with the pharmacy,” Cohen said regarding the partnership. “It is because of this historical and strong relationship, the Ocean Beach Medical Group-Ocean Park clinic is possible. Both organizations have a high regard and level of respect for each other.”

Harrell spoke about the importance bringing improved medical, mental and pharmaceutical services to the area, and bridging the gap for services that once required trips to Portland — a factor of particular importance considering the older demographical character of the Peninsula.

“It’s a growing and aging area,” he said. “Healthcare is always number one on everyone’s list.”

Concerns about healthcare access are acute among new residents relocating from more metropolitan areas such as Seattle and Portland, where a wide range of medical services are readily obtainable.

“I was talking to a real estate agent and the number one question asked to her was either ‘How’s the healthcare’ or ‘Where is it at?’” Harrell said.

“Now they can say, ‘We have a brand-new clinic with three providers, nine rooms and a new pharmacy,’” he said.

Harrell noted these services will give people an added sense of security about moving here.

“It’s important to the growth of this area,” he said.

The Ocean Beach Hospital Foundation has been working to raise money to purchase new equipment and furnishings for the clinic at 1502 Bay Avenue. Foundation President Nansen Malin took part in the June 14 groundbreaking. Spring Fling in March was the first major fundraising event for the clinic.

“We heard residents’ calls and are bringing healthcare to them. Access to quality healthcare is the number one need of our community,” Malin said.

Pacific County residents can directly impact their neighbors’ lives by helping to purchase needed clinic items: exam room tables and lights, procedure tables, laboratory equipment, an AED, and otoscope/ophthalmoscope/blood pressure wall units. At the new Ocean Park clinic, there are opportunities to dedicate and/or sponsor exam rooms, procedure rooms, and the lobby to honor families or individuals.

Contact obhfoundation@oceanbeachhospital.com for more information about how to help.

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