Wenatchee Eye and Ear Clinic to Join Confluence Health


Wenatchee, Wa.- Confluence Health and the Eye and Ear Clinic are planning to join together. The planned affiliation was announced Thursday in a joint news release:

“Both Confluence Health and the Eye & Ear Clinic, for several decades have a history of striving to improve the health and quality of life for our region’s residents by providing safe and effective care; now and into the future. Recent circumstances such as the anticipated retirements of two out of the five physicians at the Eye and Ear Clinic, difficulties in replacing those physicians, and challenges inherent in continuing to operate a small, single-specialty practice have diminished the Eye & Ear Clinic’s ability to assure its long-term viability as a stand-alone health care provider.

Through discussions between Confluence Health and the Eye & Ear Clinic leadership, all parties decided changes needed to be made to build a more secure future for our collective employees and the local communities we serve. To maintain availability and access to the exceptional, cost-effective healthcare services patients in North Central Washington expect and count on, Confluence Health and the Wenatchee Eye & Ear Clinic have agreed upon core terms of an affiliation, bringing the Eye & Ear Clinic providers and staff into the Confluence Health family. The two parties are moving to close the affiliation by year’s end, and for the Eye & Ear Clinic to be integrated into the Confluence Health system by January 1, 2018.

For patients, this affiliation will still offer the same access to the physicians they’ve entrusted with their health, while continuing to build an integrated delivery system of health care for North Central Washington that is nimble, attentive, and ready for the changing environment of health care delivery today. For providers and staff, this affiliation brings security, stability, and greater access to a cohesive, unified care model. No layoffs are expected as a result of this affiliation.

eye and ear clinic

“For 70 years, the Eye and Ear Clinic has been an integral part of North Central Washington’s medical community”, said Harden Howell, MD, at the Eye and Ear Clinic. “It has certainly provided a wonderful environment in which to practice. It is the end of an era for the Eye and Ear Clinic, but with all the changes in health care, this affiliation ensures that we can continue to offer state of the art care to our patients, and I am excited to become part of the Confluence Health team.”

eye and ear clinic

Confluence Health CEO Dr. Peter Rutherford, MD, agrees. “The physicians and staff at the Eye and Ear Clinic have set a high standard of care for the residents of our region, standards that we share. Serving and caring for patients is the reason for both our organizations’ existence. This affiliation will allow the best opportunity to permit locally led, full-spectrum eye care to remain regionally into the future. This is good for all of us.”
An affiliation brings with it many benefits, including preservation of patient access to health care, assuring access to health care in our communities, more effective physician and staff recruiting, increased coordination of limited health care resources, and further integration of patient record systems, along with greater access to local ophthalmology services. This further ensures the NCW community, economy, jobs, and business partners are preserved and can grow with the region in a responsible way”

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Steve Hair is a 40-year veteran broadcast journalist who comes to NCW LIFE TV after a long career in radio. Steve and his wife Lynette and their three sons moved to the Wenatchee Valley from Central California in 1992. Steve served as News Director for KPQ News where he covered a multitude of stories of importance to North Central Washington, including two of Washington State’s largest wildfires. During his radio career Steve has received many awards from organizations such as the Associated Press, (Sacramento and Seattle Bureaus) The Washington State Farm Bureau, and the California Medical Association. Steve is a sports addict. Time off usually finds him sprawled out on the couch watching the Seahawks, Mariners or anything that prevents him from doing house chores.