The COVID-19 pandemic put the entire healthcare ecosystem under tremendous pressure. The unprecedented advent of the virus made the healthcare space focus almost completely on preventing, treating, and curing the disease due to its lethal outcomes and highly contagious nature. This naturally resulted in other healthcare necessities being given lesser than needed attention.
In the midst of this catastrophe, services like telemedicine and urgent care centers played a major role in assisting healthcare professionals as well as those seeking medical attention.
Urgent care centers assisted the situation by attending to other healthcare necessities of the community and also by volunteering to administer the COVID-19 vaccines. One prominent name among such urgent care centers was Valley Immediate Care.
Founded in the year 1999, Valley Immediate Care has always been a leader in providing timely access to convenient, high quality, and cost-effective care.
The following extract explores the exemplary services that the organization has been providing 365 days a year since its inception.
Paying Back to the Society
Valley Immediate Care has been providing quality care for episodic illness and injuries to residents and visitors to Southern Oregon for over two decades. Valley’s patient-centric and transparent approach to the delivery of care has made them a leader locally, regionally, and nationally. Valley’s culture of service to the community and support of its staff is somewhat unique in the for-profit world, and as a result, the organization is frequently misidentified as a non-profit.
Providing Prompt Care
Over the years, Valley has met the needs of the community by adding convenient clinical locations as well as expanding services beyond those typically provided by Urgent Care Centers. Occupational Health, Dermatology, and Orthopedics are available with the same patient-friendly interface.
Valley has also added Aesthetics treatments which actually began with a program it calls Ink Out. This program provided free tattoo removal for at-risk youth. Offensive tattoos create a disadvantage for youth seeking employment, training, or even re-entry into a family unit.
To date, Valley has assisted over 140 kids with this service. It also rolled out a unique new program in 2016 called My Urgent Care 365. This is a subscription plan for employers or individuals who are uninsured or coupled with high deductible plans to provide first-dollar benefits for urgent care services.
In addition to all the services described above, and most importantly, Valley’s most effective competitive advantage is its staff. They are a caring, talented, and dedicated team of professionals. A team that has shown courage and resiliency throughout the pandemic.
Talking about the challenges posed by the pandemic and how Valley Immediate Care pivoted from those, Brent Kell, the CEO of Valley Immediate Care said, “COVID-19 has certainly stretched healthcare systems around the globe. Valley Immediate Care’s nimble nature has enabled it to not only survive but thrive during the pandemic – quickly transitioning to telemedicine visits. This was a smooth transition as Valley had been performing patient encounters in this manner since 2015.”
“Next, Valley positioned itself to perform large-scale rapid COVID testing. Large-scale, drive-through COVID vaccinations followed. In addition, during this period, Valley moved one facility, built out a new facility, and changed EHR systems.”
A Passionate Leader
CEO Brent Kell began his journey in healthcare in high school as a Veterinary Technician, eventually returning to school to become a Radiologic Technologist. After working in hospitals for several years, he moved to outpatient orthopedics and served as the Director of Operations for Southern Oregon Orthopedics.
In 2002, he moved to Valley Immediate Care and had grown the company from a single location to 6 locations seeing well over 100,000 patients annually. His desire to help people has led and kept him in healthcare. Even in his spare time, Brent has served on multiple ski patrols and search and rescue teams.
While interviewing Brent, we asked him what his opinion was on the future of urgent care services with constant development in medical technologies to which he replied, “In the future, telemedicine will be used extensively to diagnose and treat episodic illnesses. The pandemic has hastened that transition. Brick and mortar urgent care centers will still be a vital part of the healthcare delivery system but will be focused less on episodic illness and more on injury care which cannot be accommodated on a smartphone.”
“There will be an ever-increasing point-of-care diagnostics available, including molecular tests, which will make wounds and other cultures obsolete by providing information in minutes instead of days. New advancements in medical imaging will reduce patient exposure while enhancing detail.”
“Point-of-care ultrasound will become the norm as the cost of devices comes down and those devices become much easier to use. The urgent care industry will continue to see roll-ups, but organizations like Valley will still exist and thrive if they have the resolve to remain nimble in this chaotic environment.” deduced Brent.
We asked Brent what his advice would be, as an established leader, to the budding healthcare professionals who aspire to venture into the healthcare space, to which he said, “I highly recommend healthcare as a profession. If you are considering healthcare administration, I would suggest beginning your career in a clinical role for a few years. A leader who has not experienced face-to-face patient interaction does not have the level of understanding it takes to lead a healthcare organization.”
“After a few years under your belt, you should enroll in an online bachelor’s or master’s program in Healthcare Administration. The combination of clinical experience and either degree would be very marketable.”
Voyaging Towards a Healthful Future
When asked about the future prospects of Valley Immediate care, Brent said, “Valley Immediate Care will continue to scale in our region by meeting the needs of the communities they serve. More facilities will be needed, and there will be a trend of numerous, smaller facilities located in convenient places. Discussions are underway with a local school district to pilot an operating urgent care center on-campus at a local high school providing care for the neighborhood.”
“Additionally, there will be training opportunities and mentors for those students interested in a career in healthcare. It is also likely that Valley will incorporate some form of primary care services as there continues to be a need in that area. As other community healthcare needs to present themselves, Valley Immediate Care will do what it always does, meet the challenge.” concluded Brent.
Exhibiting True Excellence
Valley Immediate Care has received many awards over the years. Valley was presented with an award from the Oregon State Rehabilitation Council and Vocational Rehabilitation for its work in hiring and promoting disabled persons. It was recognized as Employer of the Year for Options and Employer of the Year by Living Opportunities.
Valley has been recognized for its support of the Ashland Ski Patrol, Northwest Seasonal Workers, and multiple local schools for their partnership with career technical education. Valley Immediate Care was awarded the Star of Broadcast award by the Oregon Broadcast Association. Recently, Valley received a commendation from FEMA for their efforts in creating mass COVID vaccination events.