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Providence buys Valley clinic

Providence Health Care has purchased its second family practice in Spokane Valley as regional clinics continue to consolidate with larger medical systems.

By adding Spokane Valley Family Medicine’s eight doctors and 40 staff, Providence Medical Group now has a larger presence in Spokane Valley.

Last year Providence acquired Valley Family Physicians, a clinic with four doctors. The financial terms of the clinic purchases have not been disclosed.

Dr. Kevin Sweeny, who now leads Providence’s recruitment of private practice physicians, said about half of Spokane Valley residents in need of hospitalization choose a Providence hospital – either Sacred Heart Medical Center or Holy Family Hospital.

Family physicians typically have a patient base of about 3,000 people, Sweeny said. That brings 24,000 more patients into the Providence fold.

Clinics have been consolidating at a rapid clip with the region’s three large medical systems.

Providence Medical Group now boasts 226 physicians in Spokane and Stevens counties along with 43 advanced practitioners and about 400 staff.

The Rockwood Clinic, which ignited the rush to consolidate when it merged with Deaconess and Valley hospitals to form an integrated health care system, has 220 physicians and advanced care providers, and more than 1,100 employees.

And Group Health Cooperative last year purchased Columbia Medical Associates, which has 30 physicians at work in a dozen regional clinics.

The clinic mergers are part of the push to gain patient loyalty and business that spans routine preventive exams to hospitalizations. Few independent family practice clinics remain.

Small clinics have reported that changes in insurance payments, reimbursements from Medicaid and Medicare, and the rise of payroll, insurance and other business costs make the operation of a small clinic more difficult.