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By TENA WILLIAMS
Daily News Staff Writer
Responding to the demand for addiction treatment, Ideal Option opened for business in February in Ketchikan.
Ideal Option is located at 3159 Tongass Avenue, across from PeaceHealth Medical Center.
Dr. Jeff Allgaier, co-owner of Ideal Option, which is headquartered in eastern Washington state, told the Daily News that Ideal Option has offices from Alaska to Maryland.
It came to Ketchikan because of the number of patients who travel from here to its Anchorage offices, Allgaier said.
“There is a significant need in Ketchikan,” he said, noting that the local office had 25 opioid-addicted patients upon opening.
Ideal Option operates in the same manner as a family practice clinic or specialty clinic, the doctor explained.
“We just happened to specialize in addiction, not just opioids, but a number of substance abuse disorders,” he said.
But, if the addiction is opioid, treatment begins with an assessment, a gathering of patient history, a physical examination, lab work, toxicology and vital signs.
“Then an assessment is made by a physician or physician’s assistant to determine whether (the patient) qualifies for medication-assisted treatment,” Allgaier said.
Ideal Option offers a couple different MATs, including an opioid blocker that doesn’t have a dependency component or a partial opioid option, he said.
For alcohol-use disorder and other substance-use disorders, he added, other treatments are offered.
Plus, the business has a team of mental health practitioners, nurses, social workers and others who can help identify the services each patient might need, he pointed out.
“For example, a patient who is homeless might need help finding a place to live, and we can do some things to help,” he said.
The idea is to treat the patient in a way that’s most likely to result in an effective result. That might mean collaborating with others in the community to get the patient the services needed.
Allgaier said he’s already reached out to a number of locals in an attempt to figure out what services are available and how Ideal Option can connect patients with those.
He said the business is tied into a database that will allow it to verify that potential patients aren’t receiving controlled substances from other physicians. It also will provide information on other medications to avoid inadvertent reactions during treatment, he added.
The doctor said that Ideal Option will work with all patients when it comes to payment. It is tied in with all payment providers, including Medicaid and Medicare.
The office depends on electronic technology, he explained.
There will be a couple of office medical assistants or a nurse who will take vital signs and ask basic questions, he said. It will be a combination of that personal contact, along with telemedicine.
“Seventy percent in person and 30 percent telemedicine,” he said.
All new patients will see a nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant or physician on site, he said. For subsequent visits, they might be seen by an onsite doctor or through telemedicine.
It all depends on demand, he added. If not a great demand, then the onsite doctor won’t be here as frequently. If the volume is such and the community wants Ideal Option to provide one, then a doctor might be here five days a week.
Currently, Allgaier said two practitioners will be commuting into Ketchikan: Bob Hillman of Fairbanks and Tod Draper of Wasilla. Hillman is a physician’s assistant; Draper is a nurse practitioner.
“We’re recruiting for a doctor, doctor’s assistant or nurse practitioner to live in Ketchikan,” he said.
Allgaier said he expects demand to give the new business 100 patients within a few weeks.
It’s that sort of demand that Allgaier said prompted him, along with Dr. Kenneth Egli, to open Ideal Option.
He said while working in an emergency room he saw the revolving door of patients coming and going with opioid and other substance use disorders.
It’s been a challenge to keep up with patient demand, he added.
The business partners opened Ideal Option in 2012. It has offices in Washington state, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Alaska and Oregon.