A new 10,000-square-foot urology clinic and surgery center will open Monday near PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center.
The new building, at 3232 Squalicum Parkway, will house Pacific Northwest Urology Specialists, previously based at 4545 Cordata Parkway, in the old Madrona Medical building that is now PeaceHealth Laboratories.
Two years in the making, the new center is a reality thanks to the efforts of Drs. Kelly Casperson and Casey O’Keefe, who received a small-business loan and obtained one of the last vacant pieces of land surrounding the hospital.
The building will be a one-stop shop for urology needs, with a full-service clinic and a surgical center with a 400-square-foot operating room.
“It’s mind-blowing,” said Casperson of the new location. “This is a dream.”
The Bellingham urologist says the improvement over their previous location – a roughly 2,000-square-foot rental space with two bathrooms – is immense. The new clinic features 10 exam rooms, a lab, an in-house digital X-ray machine, and seven bathrooms with hand-off slots for urine samples.
“Urology needs a lot of bathrooms,” Casperson said with a laugh. At their previous location, she added, the line for the bathroom was often “like a nightclub.”
If patients require surgery, they can go next door for outpatient operations and other minor procedures not requiring anesthesia. Surgeries involving anesthesia will likely begin in late spring.
Although much of the layout relies on strict guidelines, the personal touches – such as privacy curtains affixed to the ceiling in the center’s two procedure rooms – are Casperson’s. The curtains were designed specifically for women, as Casperson heard from many female patients who felt insecure about getting undressed without much privacy for pelvic exams.
The new facility will also contain a pelvic-floor rehabilitation center, featuring physical therapy from Fairhaven-based CorePhysio.
Elizabeth Hampton, owner and clinical director of CorePhysio – and a board-certified clinical specialist in women’s health – will have an office in the facility.
The collaboration between Hampton and Casperson began when Casperson began calling local physical therapists in the area. The two met with cups of their favorite pelvic irritant – lattes – and began talking.
Hampton said that in nearly 30 years of physical therapy work, she’s never had a doctor cold-call her to meet and talk.
“The focus from both of our perspectives is on quality of care and on meeting client need,” Hampton said. “(We want to be) creating an environment where clients feel safe and comfortable.”
Casperson is also excited about the collaboration.
“Just to have her in the hallway, to say ‘What do you think about this?’ is very cool for us, and overall, better for the patients,” she said.
Many physicians are merely employed, but for Casperson, getting the new facility designed and built involved learning the business aspects of medicine, something she was never formally taught. She missed dinners with her family every other Thursday for a year, holding planning meetings after a full day of urology work.
Now, all that hard work is about to pay off.
“We’re basically investing in the community,” Casperson said. “It’s very cool, I think, for Bellingham and for us – to have a community we can do that in.”