Newest Crystal Lake Health Center to Open Early Next Year
The date has been pushed back a month or so, but Dr. Rick Nielsen said the new Crystal Lake Health Center on Long Lake Road will open in February or March of 2017. When it opens, Nielsen said the facility located near West Senior High will offer services from a number of providers, from general practitioners to therapists.
“Integrated service, that’s the buzzword. It’s one-stop services,” said the physician, who established the practice in 1981. In addition to Crystal Lake’s physicians and nurses, he said Munson Healthcare will offer lab services and physical therapy, while Catholic Human Services will also be onsite, providing substance abuse counseling.
“Physicians can’t do it all. Five or six different entities could be involved,” he said.
Nielsen said the model is the SIM, State Innovation Model, an initiative of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. It focuses on service delivery models which achieve better care coordination, lower costs, and improved health outcomes for residents.
“You hope to get people to come in and take care of all their needs. That makes it easy for the patient,” he said. Crystal Lake Health Center is also a multi-payer health care payment user, which Nielsen said is unique. “We take all coverage – Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross.”
By having the patient and physician follow through with treatment following the initial visit, Nielsen the number of visits to emergency rooms will be cut back. That meets another goal of the program: cutting costs for all involved.
“We try to know the patient and take care of them, without spending a lot of money. How the model works is all about care coordination,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen said that with the advent of computerized systems that can talk to one another, the primary care doctor can be informed of everything and make recommendations. That can eliminate the need for unnecessary testing that doctors or nurses unfamiliar with the patient might require to provide diagnoses or treatment if the patient should be treated elsewhere. That can be accommodated within the Crystal Lake Clinic system, and efforts are underway to make patient information available throughout the state. Currently there are several state Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) servicing regional groups.
Since Nielsen opened it 25 years ago, Crystal Lake Health has grown from a small practice in the back of an auto dealership to the largest primary care practice in northern Michigan, with over 100 employees in five counties. The clinics employ 15 physicians in family practice, internal medicine and pediatric physicians. They are projected to handle 100,000 patient visits this year, and had revenues last year of $12 million.
Those numbers will increase when the new office opens. And plans are still underway for another office near the new Meijer complex in Williamsburg, which will be its 14th clinic.
“We’ve identified a piece of land a half block from Meijer. We anticipate going forward with that,” Nielsen said, with the purchase taking place later this year or the first part of 2017. He anticipates building an 8,000 square-foot facility and partnering with other health care providers there, as well.