Bristol practice to expand in new space

BRISTOL — Bristol Internal Medicine last week opened the doors at its new, more spacious quarters in the Bristol Works business complex, with immediate plans to accept new patients and hire additional help to serve patients in the five-town area.
Until last week, the medical practice had been functioning in 1,585 square feet of rented space at 6 Park Place. The three providers worked elbow-to-elbow at times due to a shortage of office space, explained Dr. Gretchen Gaida Michaels. She works at Bristol Internal Medicine, or BIM, with Dr. Emily Glick and Patricia Lewis, a physician’s assistant. They are joined during various days of the week by members of Porter Medical Center’s support team, which includes a social worker, dietician and other providers.
Porter officials spent several months looking for a new, larger location for BIM, which had reached a point where it couldn’t serve any new patients. In February, Porter signed a long-term lease to move BIM into 7,680 square feet of renovated space at in the Bristol Works complex near the corner of Munsill Avenue and Pine Street. BIM’s relocation gives Bristol Works a major health-care tenant and added momentum in filling a combined total of 47,500 square feet of space for medical, green energy, value-added agriculture and housing uses.
All of a sudden, BIM finds itself in more than four times the space it occupied on Park Place. The new digs allow for eight exam rooms, work stations for all the employees and a discreet location for patients to check out following their visits. But perhaps more importantly, the larger quarters will allow BIM to quickly recruit another physician, serve 90 patients who had been on the waiting list, and even take on some additional clients. Eventual plans call for bringing in a fifth provider.
BIM’s Bristol Works location also features a drive-up pharmacy (operated by Marble Works Pharmacy), more convenient access for people with disabilities; a room dedicated to blood-drawing, access to the shingles vaccine, and scales that can accommodate heavier patients or those confined to wheelchairs.
“Providing access to care for the folks of Bristol is number one on the list, in terms of why we are doing this,” Porter Hospital spokesman Ron Hallman said.
It’s turning out to be a fairly seamless transition.
“There are some patients, when they heard we were moving, they were concerned we were getting ‘too big,’ and not as personable,” Gaida Michaels said. “What’s important to note is that all of the staff who are were (working at 6 Park Place) are here now. There is continuity. We will still provide personal care; we will just be able to do it more easily.”
With its news space — including a conference room — BIM could host some health–related classes in the future, such as nutritional cooking, smoking cessation and managing diabetes.
“It’s a lot more space,” BIM Office Manager Laura Griggs said of the new potential.
Porter officials are pleased to have been able to find a spot that remains convenient for Bristol residents, some of whom are able to walk to their appointments.
“We are really pleased to still be in the village and that we are part of the economic revitalization of this complex where Autumn Harp used to be,” Hallman said. “I think it’s really important to try to support the local economy by having space here, versus building something five miles out of town. It’s been a great win-win all the way around.”
Meanwhile, Porter will continue to honor its lease at 6 Park Place, which extends through calendar year 2013, according to Hallman. He reiterated Porter’s willingness to work, during that timespan, with another tenant. Organizers of a low-cost dental clinic have expressed an interest in the space.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@ad

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