If there is one place where “one size fits all” does not apply, it is healthcare.
In a response to a pressing need to better tailor local access to rural medical services, the Flambeau Hospital and Marshfield Clinic are teaming up to provide a newly expanded urgent care structure to help patients receive care outside the anticipated parameters of the clinic and emergency room.
Flambeau Hospital CEO Jim Braun said that the urgent care will have walk-in hours from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
“Patients will be treated by our emergency room physicians,” Braun said. “The nursing staff will triage the patients according to the severity of their illness or injury, and then they will be treated by either the emergency room staff or the urgent care staff.”
The urgent care treatment will take place within the emergency room facilities, but patients will be charged with the same costs as a visit to the regular clinic. Only certain illnesses and injuries will be treated at urgent care and only during the specified hours.
“Emergency room care is far more expensive, and this gives patients another option,” Braun said.
The impetus for upgrading the healthcare opportunities at the Park Falls facility has been to ease the busy schedules of patients.
“There are times when patients have to work and can’t get to the clinic during regular hours, and their need for health care shouldn’t really wait until the next day or until Monday,” Braun said. “They can be seen here in Park Falls and not have to travel to Minocqua or elsewhere for regular procedures.”
Some of the examples of urgent care conditions would be for those suffering from back pain, sprains and strains, pink eye, sinus infections and sore throats, or rising temperatures. Minor lacerations can also be treated in urgent care, as well as all manner of coughs and colds.
There are no appointments made for the urgent care — after the clinic hours, it is all on a walk-in basis. If patients’ needs meet the sort of treatment that can be handled by the urgent care during those after-hours, they may be able to save a great deal of money that they would have otherwise paid in emergency room fees.
“We are up and running now,” Braun said. “It is going well, and I have been hearing good comments from patients who like the urgent care idea. There are just times when health care is needed, and, of course, as luck will have it, that may be outside clinic hours or on the weekend. The urgent care idea has gotten a very good response from our patients thus far.”
As these are early days for the new structure, Braun said the hospital and clinic will continue to monitor what works best as far as operating hours.
“We’ll see what is going to work best for the community,” he said. “We knew it would cut into the number of emergency room patients we see, but we think we’ll see even more patients who are not going to have to drive elsewhere for care. We think this will be a good offering for the community.”