Downtown medical clinic opening this month

Scott Swanson

Sweet Home residents will soon have another option for healthcare, with the opening of a new medical clinic downtown. 

Ridgeway Health, located at 1023 Main St., is set to open its doors later this month. 

The building, which most recently housed the Trash to Treasure clothing and variety store, is being converted into an eight-room, nearly 5,000-square-foot facility. 

Dr. Sam Milstein, urgent care physician and Ridgeway Health CEO, said he is opening the facility in response to a need for additional primary care providers. 

“Sweet Home is a very underserved community, which is disappointing, because as much as it’s medically underserved, it’s undeserved,” he said. 

The community has grown substantially in recent years, prompting the need for additional primary care providers, he said. 

Initially, he plans to open with two medical providers, and then add at least one every quarter during the startup process. 

He said the goal is to provide the community’s needs, “meeting the community on their terms, not necessarily on our terms.” 

“Our team is committed to treating those throughout the Sweet Home region with long-overdue dignity, compassion and respect,” Milsten said. 

The new clinic will initially offer immediate care services on both a walk-in and appointment basis, followed by X-ray imaging, then primary care services no later than the end of this year. 

“Utilizing modern technology, Ridgeway Health will maximize availability of services, improve communication, and facilitate a convenient patient experience,” Milstein said. “Still, technology is a tool, not a solution. We’re a small town built on relationships. Sometimes it’s just better to work with someone over the phone or in person.”

Milstein, a 2014 graduate of Western University of Health Sciences – the Pomona, Calif., branch – said he “escaped from L.A.,” where he grew up in a family of physicians. 

He started college at a “hippie school,” the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, but after some initial “lack of direction in life,” realized he wanted to be a doctor. 

“Nothing else interested me, nor could anything else keep my interest and focus like medicine did, while benefiting others,” he said. 

He transferred to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, to prepare for medical school, then moved on to Western, the mother school of Lebanon’s COMP-NW.  

As a high-schooler and college student, he was very interested in community service, he said, working as an EMT since he was 18 and volunteering with various organizations to build trails and engage in “cleanup” in state and national parks. 

During medical school he organized and led a group of 26 medical students “and a bunch of dental students” to Honduras, “where we saw 3,000 to 4,000 people, along with some local doctors who supervised.” 

Since 2010, he’s been involved in LIGA International, also known as the Flying Doctors of Mercy, which sends medical workers on short stints to the community of El Fuerte in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico. 

Meanwhile, his focus in medicine changed from surgery to general practice, he said. 

“During medical school, I had a surgical interest, but after an internship year in Michigan, I decided that I loved my wife and wanted to be a dad more than I wanted a career,” he said. 

So he switched gears, came to Oregon and completed his residency at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis. Along the way, he spent “extra time” getting experience in sports medicine, surgery and other fields. 

“I enjoyed my training,” he said. 

Now a full-fledged osteopathic physician, he went to work full-time with Samaritan Urgent Care and then served as site director for Lebanon Family Practice, until he resigned to pursue the Sweet Home clinic venture. 

“It was a joy to work with Samaritan,” Milstein said. 

The Sweet Home facility will provide services seven days a week, every day of the year, with extended daily hours, with an emphasis on access, he said. 

In conjunction with owner Henry Wolthuis, a retired local dentist, the building is being remodeled into a “comfortable, relaxed, and unrushed environment.”

Along with access, affordability and transparency are key, Milstein said. 

“We’re very sensitive to the cost of healthcare. While we take most insurance plans, we’re also here for folks visiting out-of-network, participants of cost-sharing programs, and those without coverage. We will provide significantly discounted services and affordable payment plans for anyone paying out of pocket.”

Available procedures will include everything from basic wound care, breathing treatments, and skin tag/cyst removals, to injections, contraception, STI screenings and more. Telehealth services will be available upon request, and all patients will have online access to records, test results, and staff communication, according to Milstein.

Locating the clinic in Sweet Home, he said, “just seemed to fall into place.” 

Though he currently lives in the Linn County portion of Corvallis – which he emphasized, Milstein said he’s “always felt at home in east Linn County.”

I’m a very outdoorsy person,” he said. “Culturally, I fit in better. The culture resonated with my personality and interests. 

“As much as people rag on Lebanon and Sweet Home for outside appearance, it’s the people of the  community that really give it its value. The friendships, connections, etc. that I’ve made are very special.” 

He’s looking forward to it. 

“The biggest thing I’m excited about is the flexibility that private practice allows, the flexibility to experiment.”

“Everyone put their heart and soul into the project,” says John Hammond, owner of Burz Construction. “When Sam contacted me and we discussed the team’s vision, I knew I wanted to be part of a project that ultimately gave back to the community.”

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To contact Ridgeway, call (541) 255-1234 or  email [email protected].