Published July 2005

Health Briefs

UW Medicine opens
Lynnwood cardiology clinic

The UW Medicine Regional Heart Center recently opened a cardiology clinic in Lynnwood.

The clinic, located at 18631 Alderwood Mall Parkway, Suite 310, will offer local routine cardiac care as well as direct access to the full continuum of specialized cardiac services at UW Medicine, clinic officials said.

On-site services include exercise stress testing, an on-site echocardiography lab, arrhythmia monitoring, cardiac risk assessment, pacemaker management and cardiology consultations.

"We are pleased to offer the north King and Snohomish County areas community-based consultations and medical care for a wide variety of heart problems," said Dr. Larry Dean, director of the UW Medicine Regional Heart Center. "This clinic will give patients access to UW Medicine cardiology services close to home, while at the same time giving them access to world-class cardiovascular care at UW Medical Center."

Dr. Robert Ingham, clinical professor of cardiology in the UW School of Medicine, will lead the Regional Heart Center-Alderwood team. His background includes more than 25 years of cardiology practice, and he is board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease.

Barb Crane will be the clinic's nurse.

For more information on the clinic, call 425-774-8251.

Cascade Valley considers
bond issue for expansion

Pushed by the growth in the number of people seeking its services, Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington may seek voter approval of a bond issue within the next two years to double the hospital's current space.

Preliminary plans call for adding a second building about the same size as the current hospital, which opened in 1988 and has 42,000 square feet.

It's too early to know the exact amount of the bond issue voters would be asked to approve, but it could range between $20 million and $25 million, said Clark Jones, chief executive of the public hospital.

"We're experiencing significant space problems in our building because our patient volumes have grown so much," Jones said, noting that the biggest areas of growth are in the diagnostic imaging and outpatient cancer treatment units as well as the emergency room.

Between 1996 and 2004, the number of outpatients nearly doubled, with 31,600 people treated without an overnight stay at the hospital last year. Emergency room visits have doubled as well, from 9,336 in 1996 to 18,936 last year.

For hospital space to increase, an older building currently on the hospital site would be demolished. The proposed new building would be connected to the current hospital building with a walkway, he said.

Currently, the 48-bed hospital has 430 full- and part-time employees.

Premera contains drug costs
through contracting, education

In 2004, Premera Blue Cross delivered $45.5 million in prescription drug cost-containment due to more favorable contracting terms and greater "contract transparency" with its pharmacy benefits manager, Medco Health Solutions Inc., the insurer said.

Premera and Medco began incorporating new contracting standards in 2001.

The Mountlake Terrace-based insurer delivered another $14.4 million in 2004 prescription drug-cost savings through benefit designs and education programs that encourage consumers to choose the most cost-effective, safe prescription drugs, the company said.

Looking ahead, biotechnology is predicted to be the next major driver behind escalating pharmaceutical costs, the insurer said, adding that it is actively working to manage costs through the use of a biotech initiative.

The initiative involves tracking drugs as they make their way toward government approval, enabling development of appropriate use guidelines.

Premera said it expects to save more than $12 million annually on biotech drug costs when the initiative is fully implemented in 2006.

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