For residents of western Skagit and San Juan counties needing the expert care of a PeaceHealth cardiologist, the Anacortes-based clinic at 1218 29th Street has been the place they’ve sought care for roughly the past decade.
But in recent years, that space—shared with a local, non-PeaceHealth chiropractic business—has seen patient numbers outgrow what the clinic can handle to provide optimum care. That’s why the clinic recently finished a short move to a new, larger location at 1017 20th Street.
Dr. Don McAfee, a PeaceHealth cardiologist with more than four decades of experience between Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties, says the clinic was originally founded to help PeaceHealth’s Bellingham-based cardiology care expand to outlying regional areas that might need it.
“When we established the clinic nine years ago, it was kind of an experimental outreach, if you will,” he says. “We were looking towards Oak Harbor, Anacortes, and the San Juan Islands. The end result of this is that it’s been a huge success, and we’ve outgrown the current space.”
The new facility has four exam rooms compared to two at the former location. In addition to adding a dedicated echocardiography room, the new clinic space has room for additional nurse practitioner and physician support. The latter is especially important to McAfee, the clinic’s sole cardiologist for the last five years.
“It’s huge,” he says of the clinic expansion. “When we started the clinic several years ago, there was uncertainty as to how successful it would be. But demand has absolutely flourished, and with me as the sole provider, I’ve become inundated with that demand.”
McAfee says he’s joined by a single nurse and the occasional rotating physician from PeaceHealth Cardiology in Bellingham to handle the steady stream of patients. Right now, he has very limited appointments for the next two months. But the additional space should vastly increase appointment availability.
In addition to improving patient access, the new location will significantly improve a patient’s ability to communicate with the clinic. Previously, the clinic was forced to share a receptionist with the chiropractic business, McAfee says. When a patient left the clinic with orders for lab work, those labs were relayed to PeaceHealth Medical Group cardiology in Bellingham, which would then contact patients at a later date about completing them.
Even basic phone calls about Anacortes-based care, McAfee says, were routed through PeaceHealth Cardiology. The new location will feature PeaceHealth-centric reception and support staff, meaning a world in which patients receive uncomplicated scheduling at time of service.
“I’ve heard repeatedly from patients, it’s just difficult for them to go through the mothership in Bellingham to get routed back to Anacortes,” McAfee says. “This is going to make a huge difference for them.”
PeaceHealth Cardiology Clinic
1017 20th Street, Anacortes