Rheumatology clinic to expand in Kennewick

Demand for services that only a rheumatologist can provide is prompting Dr. Derek Peacock to expand Columbia Rheumatology of Kennewick.

The expansion includes building a $2.5 million building at 6710 W. Okanogan Place that's more than three times larger than the practice's current clinic. Peacock, a board-certified rheumatologist, is one of two in the Tri-City area.

The scarcity of rheumatologists and the need for services means the clinic currently is booking appointments for new patients in November, which is a long wait, said Denise Taylor, the practice's administrator. The clinic serves patients from Washington, Oregon and Montana.

About 250 patients are seen each week at the clinic, which offers treatment for arthritis, joint, muscle, bone and autoimmune diseases.

The building under construction is only a few blocks away from the practice's location at 512 N. Young St.

With the expansion, Columbia Rheumatology plans to add a second rheumatologist and a third nurse practitioner, bringing the number of providers at the clinic to five, Taylor said.

The 13,000-square-foot building will include 20 exam rooms, Taylor said.

The added space and providers will mean adding about three more full-time positions to the staff of 18 and possibly some part-time jobs, Taylor said.

The clinic also will be expanding its infusion services, where patients receive intravenous therapy. Taylor said it's cheaper for patients and insurance companies for that treatment to happen at the clinic rather than a hospital. Columbia Rheumatology will go from eight chairs to 17 for the procedure.

The clinic will be able to offer bone-density X-rays and an in-house lab, Taylor said. There also is room to add physical therapy or other services patients may need.

This will be the fourth move of the clinic for Peacock, who opened his practice in 1998, Taylor said. They hope it will be the last and have space to add another 7,000 square feet if needed.

There are enough exam rooms for up to eight providers, allowing for expansion of the practice without adding to the new building, she said.

The new building also will house Apex Clinical Research, a company Peacock started in January to do clinical trials and research, mostly with rheumatology.

That is another interest of Peacock and is a chance to be in on the cutting edge of the newest drugs on the market, Taylor said.

The practice has been rapidly running out of room, Taylor said. Currently, the practice is cramped in about 4,200 square feet and lacks space to add any more personnel.

"We are so squished in here," she said.

Construction is expected to finish at the end of November, although Taylor said they don't expect to open at the new office until Jan. 5.