Over 20 years ago, Dr. Jennifer Polley and Dr. James Miller created something that was from their heart. The two Lewis County pediatricians wanted to start something different, something new, when they joined forces to serve the children of Lewis county. Northwest Pediatric Center (NWPC) was born and since the humble beginnings in 1992, the practice has grown to include 14 providers over four regional offices (Centralia East and Centralia West, Chehalis, and Rochester) serving more than 15,000 patients.
“At our heart, we love children and we love God, and we wanted to create a way to live out our faith in our job,” says Dr. Polley. These founding principles guide their decision making as a practice, keeping each business and patient care decision in line with their core values of caring for the children of their community with compassion and dignity while offering full and flexible access to pediatricians and a whole host of pediatric specialists.
Families experience expanded clinical services and hours, avoiding missed work days or travelling long distances to access the care their kids need. “We are passionate about living in an area that is underserved,” shares Dr. Polley, sharing how when the group started, there was a real need for additional pediatric care in Lewis County. And while the practice has certainly grown, she’s quick to state that “getting big has never been a goal.” Instead, the steady growth by the group reflects the tremendous need in the community for affordable, quality care for its youngest citizens.
Setting the group apart is their mission to provide multiple services under one roof. Through careful analysis of their patient’s needs over time, Northwest Pediatric Center has identified the most common, and pressing, needs for area kids. As a result, they employ a full-time dietician as well as a full-time allergy and asthma nurse specialist in the clinic. A child and adolescent psychiatrist is also part of the NWPC staff.
In addition, partner physicians work in the clinic on a regular schedule, seeing patients directly in the Centralia clinics. Specialties include allergy, pulmonary, cardiology, neurology and gastroenterology. When a referral is needed, families can schedule appointments directly at the clinic avoiding lengthy trips to Tacoma or Seattle, potentially missing work and school. This service is one that Dr. Polley sees as an extension of their mission to make quality care more accessible and local.
“The beauty of a small town is people come together and network together,” shares Polley about serving the Lewis County community. “Over the years we have been involved with the school districts and Centralia College, with medical students from University of Washington and family practice residents from Providence St. Peter Hospital. When all these people know what our mission is and our services are, we can reach so many more kids and care for so many more families, which is truly our passion.”
In addition, the group offers early morning appointments starting at 7:00 a.m. as well as evening appointments Monday through Thursday until 8:00 p.m. The Centralia West location is open Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until noon for sick appointments as well. Offering these flexible hours ensure that patients can see their pediatrician and avoid urgent care or ER visits which can be costly, time-consuming, and unsettling for children. Appointments for these off-hours visits can be scheduled at 360-736-6778.
Quik Kids is the Northwest Pediatric Center walk-in clinic located at Centralia East. Unlike the extended appointment hours, established NWPC patients can access the Quik Kids clinic without an appointment. The clinic operates Monday through Friday from noon to 8:00 p.m. and Sundays from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for urgent medical issues that cannot wait for regular office hours.
While the wide variety of services and hours are attractive to families and improve access to care, it’s something entirely different that makes NWPC so special. “Part of healing is making the space to listen to people,” shares Dr. Polley. “There are so many issues in life that have many levels to them and we try to engage with patients in a way that makes them feel valued and listened to, trying to understand all that is going on within a family so we can truly help them.”
Sometimes that takes 20 minutes, but sometimes that takes one hour. “We have an opportunity every time someone comes in the door to make them feel cared about, valued, heard and listened to. And, sometimes, we have to look at the bigger picture to really know what is going on. And, sometimes that takes time,” Dr. Polley explains. That bigger picture may include doctors helping a family connect with needed services such as food, personal safety, shelter, or Medicaid and medical insurance assistance. While this may impact other patients waiting, they know that they will get that same level of care and compassion when it’s their turn.
Ultimately, Northwest Pediatric Center’s mission is to care for Lewis County families with a spirit of generosity, caring and compassion to help children get their best start in life.
Northwest Pediatric Center
1911 Cooks Hill Road, Centralia