Spirit Lake, IA (June 5, 2020) Lakes Regional Healthcare’s new medical office building will be nearing completion in the next few months, and is representative of a bigger strategy in primary care in the Iowa Great Lakes. Beginning July 1, Avera Medical Group Lakes Family Practice and Avera Medical Group Spirit Lake Medical Center will join to officially form one combined clinic known as Lakes Regional Family Medicine. The two clinics have been a long-standing partnership between Lakes Regional Healthcare and Avera Health.
Since the medical office building began construction almost two years ago, the clinics have taken steps to merge. The billing and medical records staff from both clinics began working together out of one office space, which has also housed the hospital’s billing and medical records staff. This has helped decrease work redundancy, improve efficiencies, and create a unified team between the clinic and hospital. In addition, the clinics started sharing a number of services, such as the clinic nurse manager position, business officer manager position, and other business office functions. Physicians have also been sharing call and developing consistent processes and staffing arrangements. According to Dr. Andrew Mueting, this speaks to the collaborative care that has been occurring and will continue to evolve with the merge. He said, “Healthcare is always changing, and working collaboratively is a must. We want to maximize resources and collaboration is one of the biggest benefits of the merger.”
Mueting said the merger will benefit patient care as well. “All of us as family medicine providers work really well together. We are there for each other and each other’s patients when needed. We review treatment plans with each other so our patients are getting the benefit of multiple perspectives,” he said.
Mueting also indicated that the new medical office building and merging of the two clinics will help with the recruitment and retention of physicians. He said, “Recruiting physicians to rural settings, especially physicians who also want to do OB, is a challenge. We have seen many communities lose their OB service as a result. By merging the clinics, we have more physicians to lessen the burden of being on call which is a big plus in recruitment. In addition, the new medical office building allows us to evolve into new models of care and will create efficiencies for both patients and physicians.”
This summer the clinic will begin to phase in the new Lakes Regional Family Medicine name on all pieces of communication. In early fall they will move into and practice out of the new medical office building together.