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Harbor Health strives to change healthcare system

By Brittany Anderson

KYLE — A new kind of health clinic has opened its doors in Kyle, offering patients a healthcare system experience like never before. 

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at Harbor Health on Jan. 12 with team members, the Kyle Chamber of Commerce and the supportive community to celebrate the clinic’s recent opening and learn more about what it offers. 

Harbor Health was spearheaded by Dr. Clay Johnston, a neurologist and the former dean of the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. Johnston left Dell in order to pursue his goal of changing the healthcare system in local communities. 

“This isn’t just a regular clinic; this is a whole new model,” Johnston said. “Think about this as the next generation: what it should look like, what you’d want for yourself or your family. I’m driven by this notion that we can do so much better.”

What makes Harbor Health stand out from the rest is that patients get their own “health team” consisting of a doctor, nurse and a health coach. A pharmacist is also on hand and mental health professionals can be implemented when necessary. Health teams can bring in specialists as needed to make recommendations or target certain health needs or goals. 

Because of these teams, the clinic is able to offer a wide variety of healthcare services. This collaborative effort between patients and multiple health professionals is the cornerstone of Harbor Health’s mission. 

“You need more people. Doctors are good at some things and not at other things. Nurses are way better at symptom management. And then neither spends adequate time on diet, exercise and lifestyle things,” Johnston said. “You want everybody to operate at the highest level of their game, but you also want them talking and coordinating so that there’s a sense of knowing the patient. Not everyone wants that sort of ‘group hug,’ but a lot of people need it and do want it.”

Harbor Health team members, from left: Jocelyn Sarkaria,
DO, Aroldo Ibarra, PA, and Shakell Newton, health coach. (PHOTO BY BRITTANY ANDERSON)

Johnston also stressed the importance of healthcare professionals being aligned with their patients in order to be cognizant of the money they spend on care and to not waste their resources. As such, Harbor Health seeks to help patients understand the system and guide them through it. 

“What we were trying to do is say, ‘Ok, the healthcare system doesn’t work very well for people. How can we build it better? [How can we] build it around really promoting people’s health and be more user-friendly?’” Johnston said. “It’s not about getting squeezed into a short doctor office visit, but really creating a partnership with people. The visit is an important thing when you need it, but you also want to know they’re there to answer texts, emails, calls or make virtual visits to see you … A team that works with you to keep you as healthy as possible.”  

Harbor Health team members Yvonne Bazan and Brigham Godfrey. (PHOTO BY BRITTANY ANDERSON)

Chief clinical officer Dr. Luci Leykum noted that one of the biggest differences in the care they offer compared to other clinics is the time spent with patients.

“It does make a difference,” Leykum said. “What we’re trying to do is move away from, ‘You have to come see us in the clinic, and you only have a certain amount of time,’ to just setting up lines of communication that we can use that best fit people’s health needs.” She added that the Harbor Health team frequently follows up with their patients in order to “make sure things are being understood in both directions.” 

Harbor Health is located at 177 Kirkham Circle in Kyle. There are also two other clinics located in Austin and Round Rock, as well as mobile clinics. New patients of all ages are being accepted and same-day visits are available. Most major insurance companies are also accepted and walk-ins are also welcome, although team members encourage calling first. 

More information can be found at www.harborhealth.com.

About Author

Brittany Anderson graduated from Texas State University in August 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She previously worked at KTSW 89.9, Texas State University's radio station, for nearly two years in the web content department as a writer and assistant manager. She has reported for the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch since July 2021.

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