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A New Beginning for a Familiar Practice


Tyler Scheff

April 20, 2015
In January 2014, GBMC’s Family Care Associates (FCA) practice was operating out of two separate offices and was in the early stages of merging into one cohesive location. What a difference a year makes!

Priscilla Scott talking with Kathleen Mathey, MD
Patient Priscilla Scott talking with Kathleen Mathey, MD
The practice had recently completed two years of planning to maintain consistency with the communication and technology methods used by all GBMC primary care offices. They also created a schedule that allows them to take urgent appointments every day and to get patients into office visits more quickly for non-emergent issues. FCA extended its hours on weekdays and began offering both Saturday and Sunday hours to improve patients’ access to healthcare. As a result of the team’s work, the practice was recognized as a Level 3 Physician Practice Connections-Patient- Centered Medical Home (PPC-PCMH) as noted by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), making it one of nine PCMH practices within the GBMC system. This distinction demonstrates a commitment to providing better health and care at a lower cost.

FCA had earned the right to call itself a PCMH last year, but the physical space it occupied was not ideal, with physicians and other staff members divided between two separate offices. A large suite in GBMC’s Physicians Pavilion North was identified as the practice’s new home, which presented a unique opportunity for its leaders to design their own office.

“We wanted to be able to deliver care with less waste of time, effort and resources for both our patients and our staff,” say Ben Hand, MD, and Sarah Whiteford, MD, FCA’s two lead physicians. “We visited consultants at Seattle’s Virginia Mason Institute, which is a national leader in patient-centered care, and got their input on how to model our new space for efficiency and patient comfort.”

“When I walk into a doctor’s office, the first thing I look for is cleanliness, a warm welcome and comfort”
FCA asked patients for feedback on what they didn’t like about traditional physician offices. A stakeholders team, including physicians, medical assistants, care managers and administrative staff, incorporated that feedback throughout the design and construction process. After nearly a year of collecting comments, studying patient flow and renovating the suite, the practice opened its brand new office in October 2014 with a focus on direct communication, patient care and education.

Priscilla Scott, a patient of FCA physician Kathleen U. Mathey, MD, was among the first to visit the new FCA office for her scheduled appointment. “The first thing I noticed is how the office was set up less like a clinic and more open, making me feel more welcome and comfortable,” says Mrs. Scott. “My wait time was very short. I loved how my doctor was able to perform all of my routine check-ups in one room without me having to relocate multiple times.”

The office layout is in a U-shape with an “onstage/offstage” design. Patients and visitors only see the onstage presence of the office like the exam rooms, lounge and concierge desk. Behind all of the exam rooms, on the perimeter of the U, is the offstage area where physicians and caregivers can communicate with each other and move freely and easily between exam rooms, creating less clutter and bumping into one another. Each of the 14 patient exam rooms is fully equipped with the necessary tools and materials that doctors use for a variety of diagnostic tests that can be performed on-site. There is also a phlebotomy room near the front entrance for quick blood draws and services if a patient doesn’t need a full exam from a physician.

“When I walk into a doctor’s office, the first thing I look for is cleanliness, a warm welcome and comfort,” says Mrs. Scott. “The new Family Care Associates has all of that plus some. I feel as though they treat me like I’m family every time I visit, that’s why I keep coming back.”

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