Walk-in Care clinic opens at North Street Healthcare

15 years ago
By Kathy McCarty  
Staff Writer

    PRESQUE ISLE — Getting medical attention for such things as colds, minor cuts, bruises, headaches, allergies, sprains and other non-emergency conditions is now less expensive and a lot easier, thanks to Walk-In-Care, The Aroostook Medical Center’s newest service, now open at North Street Healthcare, 23 North St., Suite 2. 

    “This is a benchmark day for us and health care as a whole in Aroostook County,” said Dave Peterson, TAMC president and CEO, during a Monday morning press conference to announce the opening of the clinic. “There is nothing quite like this in Aroostook. It’s not quite like the doctor’s office, and it’s different than the Emergency Department. It’s something completely new in our region.”
    Peterson said the clinic is “more closely aligned with a primary-care facility,” adding it will be, “an educational process as people learn to use it.”
    Walk-in care clinics have grown in popularity over the last decade in Maine and across the nation, because they offer quick, affordable care on a first-come, first-served basis. A patient’s use of such a center is deemed appropriate, according to Peterson, when a minor illness or injury needs to be treated by a health care provider right away but the regular family doctor isn’t available. It’s also a good choice for people who do not have a primary care provider.
    “This (Walk-In Care clinic) is the first of its kind in the County. But we expect there will be more in the future,” said Peterson.
    “We’ve seen people use our Emergency Department for minor medical concerns for years, and Walk-In Care is now a better option for them,” said Dr. Jay Reynolds, TAMC chief operating officer and chief medical officer. “It’s fast, convenient and easy, and no appointment is necessary. The spaces are warm, open and inviting. I think folks are really going to like it here.”
    If staff determine a patient needs more extensive treatment, Reynolds said an individual can also be referred to a primary care physician if the party doesn’t have one.
    “Bob Hunt, P.A., and our staff are prepared to serve patients at the new facility, beginning today, July 27,” said Glenda Dwyer, TAMC’s vice president of physician services.
    The site includes the provider’s office, a nurses’ station, a treatment room, with registration taking place on-site.
    “Registration takes place in a private office, away from the waiting area. We share a waiting area with the rest of the offices here at the North St. facility,” said Dwyer. Pediatric and other services are also offered at North Street Healthcare. “We share an entrance but each department has its own area for service.”
    When necessary, Dwyer said patients can be transported, via Crown Ambulance, to TAMC for further treatment.
    Walk-In Care is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Weekend hours will be added in the coming months.
    Out-of-pocket cost depends on various factors, including the type of insurance involved and the nature of services provided, but according to hospital officials, Walk-In Care costs will be comparable to a primary care office visit for most people. Such care is not intended to replace the family doctor. Primary care providers (PCP) are the best choice for ongoing, routine medical care because a PCP knows more about a patient’s medical history and can monitor health problems on a regular basis.
    Walk-in Care is not appropriate for emergency care.
    “While we hope our community will use Walk-In Care instead of the Emergency Department for minor concerns whenever possible, real medical emergencies should always be treated in the ED,” explained Reynolds. “Anyone experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, broken bones, alcohol or drug overdose, or any other kind of medical emergency should call 9-1-1 or visit the closest emergency room.”
    Peterson said the new facility builds on a common TAMC theme.
    “One theme that we’ve developed over the last eight to 10 years — comfort, convenience and confidentiality — those go above what’s required by state and local agencies. That’s just baseline for us,” said Peterson. “There’s no compromise on quality of care as compared with primary care or other offices.”
    Reynolds said the clinic stands alone but has “the backup of TAMC, Crown and all those affiliated with the hospital,” adding that the facility is “easy in, easy out,” with the added benefit of medical records being shared electronically between facilities, when necessary. “Using electronic medical records makes for quick, easy and convenient transfer of data when it’s required.”
    Dwyer noted that if additional assistance is needed, Hunt is just “steps away from Aroostook Pediatrics and the doctors on staff there.”
    Hospital officials believe NSH, which also includes adult primary care, pediatrics, dialysis, nephrology, patient billing and physical therapy services, is the right location for the Walk-In Care service. According to Dwyer, customers will enjoy the central location and easy parking. A laboratory service is located on-site, so most customers will not need to go to the hospital to get their blood drawn.
    “Customers do not need an appointment for Walk-In Care or the laboratory service,” said Dwyer. “Lab services are also available for anyone who needs lab work — not just Walk-In Care customers. We’ll be able to handle lab draws very quickly and efficiently and get you back home or to work.”
    As word gets out about Walk-In Care, Peterson expects that the Emergency Department will see fewer visits from people needing care for minor illnesses and injuries.
    “We have an opportunity to not only provide more convenient care to people who have minor medical concerns, but also to improve our Emergency Department,” added Peterson. “ED staff will be able to focus on what they do best, which is treating heart attacks, strokes, broken bones and other emergencies.”
    TAMC is a member of EMHS. Through initiatives such as the Community Health Needs Assessment, EMHS works with  communities to identify priorities and reduce barriers to quality care.


Staff photo/Kathy McCartyImage
    OFFICIALS FROM TAMC were on hand Monday, June 27, to announce the opening of the Walk-In Care facility, one of several offices located at North Street Healthcare’s 23 North St. facility, offering a variety of medical care under one roof. Pictured in the clinic, from left: Dr. Jay Reynolds, TAMC chief operating officer and chief medical officer — looking toward the nurses’ station; Glenda Dwyer, TAMC vice president of physician services; and Dave Peterson, TAMC president and CEO. 





ImagePhoto courtesy of TAMC
    NORTH STREET HEALTHCARE, located at 23 North St., Presque Isle, offers a variety of healthcare services all under one roof, including the latest addition, the Walk-In Care clinic which officially opened June 27.