“I came here in 1980 to join the Humboldt Open Door Clinic in Arcata when it was still in the Tin Can Mailman building. I was interested in family practice and obstetrics,” says William Carlson, MD. When Open Door opened the McKinleyville Community Health Center, Dr. Carlson, now the site’s medical director, moved to the new location.
“I wanted to work in the community I lived in. This feels like a small clinic, but we fill a big need in this community.” In reality, the McKinleyville site has almost as many medical appointments each year as most other Open Door clinics.
One possible explanation for the more relaxed feel: “We’ve been working with many of the same patients for several decades. They appreciate the continuity of care from being together for so long.”
“Small is beautiful. We don’t have all the services right here, but we’re hooked into the other resources of Open Door and can connect patients to specialists and the bigger medical community,” continues Dr. Carlson. Like other Open Door clinics, McKinleyville uses a team concept. Dr. Carlson explains, “Two or three providers work together as a small family practice unit. We rely on our nurses quite a bit.” Team work is essential to an efficient working environment. All members of the staff help to address patients concerns, facilitate communication and create access.
The McKinleyville clinic offers patient-centered care, with strong relationships between patients and providers. Glorie Williamson, RN Clinic Coordinator, explains, “Relationships are what we’re here for, what we want. Our care is about follow up, health maintenance, keeping up with our patients and protecting their health.”
Glorie notes, “I came here from Sacramento , graduated from the nursing program at CR, taught clinical nursing. I have worked at Mad River and St. Joe’s.” When Glorie explored Open Door she found, “Open Door stood for what I believed in as a nurse: access to patient-centered care.”
After several years at the McKinleyville clinic, Glorie feels the collaborative effort among all Open Door clinics. “The clinics work closely with one another. We all work hard for our patients to be seen. And if we’re short of appointments, we’ll work to have them seen at another Open Door clinic. We’re always working to get new patients into care.”
“We do our best to calm and reassure those who call us. Our job is knowing how to approach the patient and comfort their woes,” says Sarah Kohndrow, front desk lead at MCHC. Sarah knows it takes experience to understand that forming relationships with patients is both an important part of the clinic and an understated perk. “We know our patients as people. We greet them by name. That makes a big difference.” Sarah explains that the front desk is entrusted to make the first impression of the clinic and to help the patient have a successful clinic visit.