In the past 31/2 months they've won the
They cleared a little over
And, a little over a week ago, Alexander and Falvey said, three local investors decided to put
What this all means is they can move ahead with their plans to open a health care clinic in
What started out as a school project -- Falvey is a recent
The plan is simple: Members of
The idea grew out of a 2012 student competition organized by the
Alexander, who grew up in
Based on data from state health officials about where the greatest needs lie, they came up with a plan for a mobile medical van that would serve
"I wanted a project with tangible results, that would serve people's needs and make life tangibly better for them," Falvey said,
Their second-place finish, and
The original plan morphed into a single, fixed clinic to serve
Partnering with the county
One break came when they attended a conference on sexually transmitted diseases and were introduced to
Davis was there as part of a mission to get the word out about the rapid increase in STDs in the county, Alexander and Falvey were there in search of any useful health care data.
They talked to Davis about potential funding avenues and he suggested they talk to
The county knew there were unmet health care needs in
Beyond that, he said, "The hope is that they'll carry this (model) into other (rural) communities."
Alexander and Falvey share Davis' hope that their model will be successful and can be replicated. They have already identified up to 20 Oregon communities where, based on state health care data, "60 to 100 percent of their health care needs are not being met," Falvey said.
At the end of January, the county commissioners approved use of
Alexander and Falvey said there are several reasons
The distance between
With all that in mind, Alexander and Falvey planned a clinic that would provide ongoing preventative primary care and also serve as an urgent care.
They leased 2,000 square feet of space at
A physician -- Dr.
One of their selling points in recruiting health care providers, Falvey and Alexander said, was the promise of far less paperwork compared to dealing with insurance companies, freeing up more time to spend with patients.
They've in the process of hiring a clinic administrator and already have a commitment from a nurse practioner, Falvey said.
They also are in the process of hiring a mental health worker -- "our top choice," he said -- and have worked out an arrangement for teleconferencing with county behavioral health specialists. Falvey and Alexander will staff the front desk of the clinic themselves initially to see how things are going.
People with major emergencies will be sent to
They hope that eventually one-third of the Orchid members will be private patients, one third
Confident of interest
Falvey and Alexander said they are confident they will have enough patients to make a go of the clinic. Surveys they sent out with the city's utility bills found more than enough interest -- even with a conservative estimate of how many of these people actually sign up -- to reassure them that the clinic is workable, they said.
They have built their budget with the expectation that they will operate at a loss for the first few months. This is partly because they are limiting the number of patients they sign up initially to avoid overwhelming the new system and partly because they are planning for initial visits that will take longer than follow-up visits, reducing the number of patients that can be seen at the clinic in a day.
Orchid isn't set up to deal with catastrophic illness or injury, its founders said.
What they are suggesting is that people buy a high-deductible insurance policy that would cover catastrophic needs and then join
Falvey said he and Alexander are already getting encouragement from both insurance companies and local hospitals, who see the
Falvey said that he and Alexander closed their current round of funding a little over a week ago receiving commitments from the three local investors.
At that point, he said, "We became fully funded," he said.
If all goes as planned, Falvey said, they are hoping to open two more rural health care clinics in year two of their startup.
Both he and Alexander said they are grateful for all the support they have received in their attempts to get Orchid off the ground, from UO faculty and business advisers to state and county officials to the people of
Gomez said he has watched UO's business school, particularly its entrepreneurship program, and been impressed with what he has seen.
"The kids that come out of there do very well, they take calculated risks that pay off," he said.
"They've got a very strong curriculum and one on one (support)," Gomez added.
When people are looking at moving to a town, or opening a business there, there are usually two things they really look at, he said. "They look at schools and they look at health care."
Projected opening date: mid-summer
"I wanted a project with tangible results that would serve people's needs."
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