In 2011, Judy Coleman of Ocean Park, Wash., needed chemotherapy. Shortly after her treatments ended, her husband Bill Coleman needed to have his leg amputated. The two faced continued trips to PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center in Longview, Wash., for these advanced treatments, but received a reprieve from yet another urban-rural health care partnership.

Dr. Tim O’Neill recently opened a branch of his company Evergreen Prosthetics & Orthotics at the 22nd Street offices of Dr. Mark Ellis, a local pediatrist. O’Neill fitted Bill Coleman with a new prosthetic leg in Astoria six weeks after his amputation in December.

“We had a hell of a year,” said Judy Coleman about 2011. “It was horrible, but it was made better by being able to do some things locally.”

O’Neill, who first met the couple during Bill Coleman’s rehabilitation at Clatsop Care Center, currently holds office hours in Astoria from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Monday. He said the North Coast and Long Beach, Wash., are the right size for his once-a-week clinic providing people with all manner of artificial limbs and braces. He schedules appointments for prosthetic and orthotic work through (888) 783-1120.

“We have in that area probably 20 to 40 amputees that were known to us,” said O’Neill about North Coast customers he had even before opening the satellite office. “They’ve basically always had to come see us” in Portland.

The University of Washington graduate, who owns a vacation home in Surf Pines outside Warrenton, found out from other local physicians that a space had opened up in Dr. Ellis’ office across 22nd Street from Columbia Memorial Hospital and decided to open the weekly clinic and visit himself.

“I just love rehabilitation medicine,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to help people following a traumatic incident or disease process they’re going through.”

Along with prosthetic limbs, which Evergreen assembles in-house, the company provides braces for anything from broken knees and torn anterior cruciate ligaments to carpal tunnel treatment and neck injury halo braces. He said the revenue he makes is evenly split between prosthetics and orthotics, but the less expensive braces are more than 70 percent of his volume.

O’Neill founded Evergreen Prosthetics and Orthotics in 2005. The company now has five permanent locations in the Portland metro area and satellite offices in Astoria, Tillamook and Salmon Creek, Wash.

“I chose it because it represented an area that needed a clinic,” said O’Neill about coming to Astoria. “The population base is not being well-served. The doctors in the community are very strong. I also love the area.”

He said that although it’s only once a week right now, the clinic’s availability in Astoria will increase with demand. When it warrants more than two days of operation a week, he’ll hire someone else to work there.

Seventy to 80 percent of amputations in the United States are related to peripheral vascular disease, says O’Neill, while the rest stem from cancer, trauma and other causes. “In the rest of the world, it’s flopped – 70 to 80 percent is trauma.”

“We just don’t do Portland anymore,” said Bill Coleman, who first started noticing significant problems shortly after his wife had finished traveling on a bus to the Longview medical center five days a week for chemotherapy.

“Dr. Raisch’s clinic – the cancer center there (at CMH) – is wonderful,” said Judy Coleman about the new clinical partnership between the local hospital and Oregon Health & Science University where she gets her continuing cancer screenings.

She said the next step is working on radiology and dermatology clinics in Astoria.

O’Neill said having these specialized clinics in rural areas strengthens the surrounding communities and saves people expensive and painful trips out of town.


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