Opening a primary care clinic in the middle of a pandemic has come with challenges, but Dr. Dino Ramzi says his newest clinic came at exactly the right time.
Ramzi is no stranger to medicine in Clark County. He opened a clinic in 2016 in Battle Ground, which began as Patient Direct Care and was renamed Delta Direct Care last year. Ramzi recently soft-opened a second Delta Direct Care clinic in Vancouver.
What makes Delta Direct unique is its care model. It operates more like a gym, using a membership fee system as care payment. People pay a monthly fee, and can receive advice, primary care or other health services.
Ramzi said his newest clinic has been slowly adding patients with time. He said there is certainly a need for primary care during the pandemic.
“Our focus is on individuals in the community,” Ramzi said. “What’s happening is there are a lot of people who are looking around for care. They are not necessarily looking for insurance, but looking for care.”
Now that Ramzi has been operating his care model for four years, he’s noticed some interesting trends when it comes to health care. When Ramzi started his clinic, he thought people would mostly be drawn to the idea of a membership payment plan.
As time has gone on, Ramzi said he now believes that people are most drawn to the easy access his clinic provides. Patients can text and call him directly, and appointments are not hard to come by, even on short notice.
Primary care clinics that operate separate from larger hospital systems are becoming rarer, Ramzi said, and one of the advantages of his clinic is that he doesn’t have too many patients.
As Ramzi said, “there’s a difference between access and coverage.” Even folks who have good health insurance can wait weeks to be seen by a doctor.
“You can always get through here and there are no hassles,” Ramzi said. “People are texting me all hours of the night, and if it’s not urgent, I’ll answer back the next morning, but I think the pressures of other health care system business models don’t allow quick and easy access.”
In addition to standard primary care, Delta Direct offers lab tests, urgent care, diagnostics and basic procedures such as stitches and skin biopsies. Delta Direct also has a list for the price of every procedure or medicine it offers — adult memberships are variable, Ramzi said.
Ramzi says he looks at his practice as a disruption to the traditional medical system. Ramzi and his wife, Maria Ramzi, co-founded Delta Healthcare Foundation, a nonprofit that donates primary care treatment to help uninsured and underinsured folks.
His involvement in the clinic and the foundation make for long days, but as Ramzi said last year he’s given energy from his endeavors.
“I think the current (health care) system burns people out and you don’t feel good when you get home at the end of the day,” Ramzi said last year. “I don’t think that has ever happened here. Maybe I’ve been frazzled on a busy day, but I’ve never gone home thinking, ‘When is this going to stop?’ It burns you out, because of the business. It’d be nice to change the business model.”