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New medical practice opens in Valencia

Just one small step in meeting demand for more doctors

Posted: February 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Dr. Steve Yi looks over a chart in an exam room at Valencia Medical Care. (Jonathan Pobre/The Signal)

 

When the Affordable Healthcare Act takes effect in 2014, experts predict there will be a shortage of doctors to care for the nation’s populace.

Dr. Steve Yi of Santa Clarita is one of many physicians who hope to help fill that gap locally through the new medical practice he just opened - Valencia Medical Care.

The property owner reached out to Yi, asking him to start another medical center, after the practice he had been with made the decision to move out of the Smyth Medical Plaza.

“Initially, when I first began practicing three-plus years ago, that was my intention - to open my own practice,” he said. “My wife and I talked about it for a long time. We decided to give this a try.”

Opening his own practice and urgent care center, Yi first had to find a small business loan.

“It’s really difficult to get business loans these days, but it’s a little bit easier for physicians,” he said.

Buying much of the existing medical equipment from the former tenant, and planning for startup costs, amounted to securing “a loan for about what it cost to buy a house,” Yi said.

Yi is also banking on the shortage of primary care physicians to help grow the business, he said.

Doctor shortage

“They’re forecasting a shortage of 20,000 doctors,” he said.

Six years before “Obamacare” was passed into law, a 2004 study by the University of California, Berkley found there were not enough doctors in non-metropolitan areas.

Moreover, the researchers found many physicians were readying to retire just as the baby boomer populace was aging, further shrinking the doctor to patient ratios. The Association of American Medical Colleges already ranked California 20th in doctor-patient ratios as of 2010.

On a positive note, the UC-Berkley report found doctors tend to set up practices in areas where people have the ability to pay for their services – making the SCV’s demographics a perfect fit for Valencia Medical Care.

But the median income and access to health benefits wasn’t Yi’s sole motivation for setting up his own practice.

Patient partnerships

“I wanted to do things a little different than Providence,” he said. “We want to get the patient involved to maintain their own health,” Yi said.

Attracting a staff that supported his vision was not difficult, Yi said. When employees from the former practice learned of his plans, 80 percent of the staff followed Yi from Advanced Medical Care to his new practice.

Dr. Yi’s philosophy on practicing medicine lines up with mine,” said Emily Wandel, physician assistant. “We like to always treat the patient as we would like to be treated, like a family member.”

And, working in a solo practice means no red tape,” Wandel said. “It gives us more leeway to work with patients.”

But paying for that vision is costly and to build the new practice, Valencia.

Hybrid model

Medical Care is using a hybrid model of offering primary care as well as urgent care while the business grows, Yi said.

As patients can’t get in to see their doctors, it creates a growing need for urgent care.

“Urgent care is a good way to find new patients,” he said. “Our goal when they come in is to address not just their acute need, but see them as a whole patient.”

Care vs. profit

In addition to being a working physician, there’s the challenge of starting his own business, Yi said.

“It represents personal growth for me on the business side of the practice,” he said. “But the support from the patients has been tremendous.”

And his plans do not include building the practice only to sell it to a larger medical group. Yi wants to remain in private practice, and someday open a second medical center, he said.

“When it comes down to the bottom line, making a quick profit is really not my goal,” he said. “I want to stay here as long as I can.”

Valencia Medical Care is located at 27875 Smyth Drive, Suite 101 in Valencia.

jana@signalscv.com

661-287-5599

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