Urgent Care Center

9/1/2010

Contact: Tammy G. Love

Director of Marketing & Medical Staff Development

Phone: (336) 651-8116

By CHARLES S. WILLIAMS
Wilkes Journal-Patriot Staff

Wilkes Regional Medical Center will open an urgent care facility in the hospital's Diagnostic Imaging Center at West Park in early September, following Labor Day.
According to Wilkes Regional Chief Executive Officer Gene Faile, the center will be open Monday through Friday, 5-9 p.m., and eight hours on Saturdays and Sundays, probably 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. It will be staffed with a physician and/or nurse practitioner, as well as a support staff.

"Our goal in opening the center is to give those people who can't see their family physicians after hours or on weekends access to a physician or nurse practitioner without having to go to the emergency department," said Faile. "The center will basically be for low level illnesses such as a fever, cough and cold, or bumps and bruises. We'll offer essentially the same level of care as that available at a physician's office."

"It won't be set up to handle a lot of trauma," Faile continued. "This will be a clinic for walk-in patients. If a child comes home from school with a fever and needs to see a physician, but the child can't get in to see the family physician, the parents can take the child to the center. Patients who need a greater level of care will be sent to the emergency department. We would coordinate that move closely with the hospital so that the staff would be waiting for the patient."

Faile added that the urgent care center would help to lower the cost for health care. "If you go to the emergency department, you're going to have a very high deductible…usually $150 or more," said the hospital CEO. "We're designing this so that the charge will be more in line what your co-pay would be at a physician's offic…in the $30 to $50 range."

The finance committee of the hospital operating board approved $139,298 for the renovation and "upfit" of space and for new equipment at the center, as well as $67,088 for other startup costs (such as supplies).

The center will be located to the left of the main entrance to the imaging center. The space was designed for treatment and examination of imaging patients but had not been used, "so we just remodeled it for the urgent care center," Faile said.

The center will also be able to offer X-ray services and blood work. "We're not trying to be in competition with physicians' offices," Faile added. "We want to offer after hours care, or care for those patients who can't get an appointment at the last minute with their normal provider. This gives people an alternative place to go other than the emergency department for treatment of minor illnesses or injuries. We expect for it to be busy."

Hospital officials are in negotiations with two physicians to work at the center on a part-time basis.

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