Silverton Health's Keizer Health Center is set to open next Monday, Feb. 3 with a grand opening scheduled for Feb. 20. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Silverton Health’s Keizer Health Center is set to open next Monday, Feb. 3 with a grand opening scheduled for Feb. 20. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

Dr. John Hayes is excited to finally be practicing in Keizer, the city he’s lived in since 2005.

He’ll get the chance to do that when the 10,000 square foot Silverton Health Keizer Health Center opens Monday, Feb. 3.

More than just about anyone, Hayes has been following the progress of the clinic, just around the corner from his house. He can recall general contractor Andy Medcalf doing the initial digging of dirt with his tractor.

“I would go by every day and snap a picture, then take off,” Hayes recalled with a laugh Tuesday. “After 10 days in a row of me doing this, Andy jumped off the tractor and came up to my truck. He said, ‘Can I help you with something?’ He comes right up to my face. I told him this was my clinic. Once I told him who I was, every time after he waved from his tractor.”

It’s been quite the transformation from the first dirt being turned last summer to now.

“When I saw it go up, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a big building.’ But when I thought about our needs, I wonder if we underestimated what we need. It’s a beautiful building, but from the feel you get in town and what people are thirsty for, I have a weird feeling we will have to put on a second floor or get more space. There’s such a need here.”

As such, he has some mixed feelings.

“I’m excited, but also a little nervous,” said Hayes, who practices family and internal medicine. “There’s the reputation of Silverton Health to uphold in the community. When you think of what they expect from their doctors and hospital, I’m a little apprehensive we’ll be so busy. When you get too busy, you’re too worried about the numbers, not the people. If you need that extra time, I need to give you that time.

“That’s what separates our doctors,” he added. “I don’t flush you out in 10 minutes. We have a reputation for good, quality care. I know a lot of people want that service. When you have 50 people at the door, the temptation is to just crank them out.”

James Berokoff, construction manager for Silverton Health, noted the challenges the space presented.

“The site was an interesting shape, a semi-circle,” Berokoff said. “It’s an unorthodox space. The crew did a good job to utilize the space. I found that impressive.”

Rick Cagen, president and CEO of Silverton Health, has been impressed with how welcoming Keizer has been.

“I’m impressed with the facility and the construction folks,” Cagen said. “But I’m most impressed with the way the community has embraced us. A facility is a facility; the rest is pure love. It’s pretty cool. This is my 39th year in the field. I don’t think I’ve ever been welcomed into the community like this.”

While the clinic at 5685 Inland Shores Way North opens Monday, the formal grand opening takes place Thursday, Feb. 20. The ribbon cutting takes place at 4 p.m., with an open house to follow until 7. The open house includes tours, refreshments and music by McNary High School students.

Sarai Vasquez will be managing the clinic, which features 21 exam rooms and will offer family and internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery, orthopedics and sports medicine, pediatrics, x-ray and ultrasound services.

“Silverton Health has always had ears open to what the community needs,” Vasquez said. “We’ve heard for a long time Keizer wants us in Keizer. The administrators listened to that. It’s been nice to see how the whole piece comes together. Every provider here is amazing.”

Dr. Jill Pearson, who will be in charge of getting the pediatrician service up and running in Keizer, can’t wait for next week.

“This is like Christmas,” she said. “I’m having so much fun. I was in private practice for 14 years. To work with other doctors and other specialists, it’s fun for me. This is a new adventure. The potential this building can be to community, under one roof and bringing it together, is exciting.”