Here’s a scenario that might sound familiar: You’re on a Sunday hike with a friend when you stumble on a rock and hit the ground, elbow first. It hurts but doesn’t appear to be broken. The ache soon becomes pain and your arm starts to swell. You know you should have it looked at, but it doesn’t warrant a trip to the emergency room.
So, what do you do?
Express Care to your aid
Even if you have a primary care doctor you rely on for most of your health care needs, injuries don’t always happen during office hours, and appointments can’t always wait until tomorrow. That’s when services such as Providence Express Care or virtual care come into play.
“We mainly see patients come in [to Express Care] with coughs, colds, UTI’s (urinary tract infection), strains, sprains, and routine care such as sports physicals and flu shots,” says Eric Norris, M.D., medical director of Providence retail services. Although Express Care clinics can’t do X-rays, they can order them for you at a nearby clinic so you can find out right away if you’ve got a broken bone or a sprain.
Most of the retail clinics offer in-house testing for strep, UTIs, pregnancy and more. “We’re able to get an answer for you right away,” Dr. Norris says.
Express Care isn’t a traditional walk-in and wait clinic. Appointments are necessary but they’re always same-day, and you can make them using your electronic device, or by phone. Having an appointment ensures you see someone at a time that works for you. “And we’re 91 percent on time,” Dr. Norris says.
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants with backgrounds in primary care and urgent care clinics can handle almost anything that comes their way, including stitches and stabilizing broken bones.
“Express Care is really part of a tightly integrated health care system,” Dr. Norris explains. It’s not intended to replace your relationship with your doctor, rather, it serves as an extension of your care. After visiting an Express Care clinic, your medical chart is updated so your primary doctor knows the reason for your visit and the recommended treatment. With this information readily available, your doctor is better able to address immediate health concerns and potential ones, too. This is part of the seamless care Dr. Norris describes, and one of many things about the service he’s so passionate about.
Model of care for the future
Services such as Express Care were hatched from a need for consumers to have access to affordable after-hours care for non-life-threatening issues. In addition to being convenient, retail clinics help reduce the burden placed on emergency rooms, which are equipped and staffed to handle the most complex or critical needs.
Currently, Providence has 14 Express Care clinics located throughout the Pacific Northwest. Some are stand-alone clinics, and others are conveniently located in neighborhood Walgreens stores, which are open until 8 p.m., seven days a week.
As more Express Care clinics open throughout the Northwest and in Southern California (where they’ll only be located in Walgreens stores) more services will be added, as well.
All Express Care clinics are open to anyone 18 months and older, and accept various insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. Insured patients pay the co-pays or coinsurance outlined in their health plans. Self-pay rates range from $139 for a standard visit to $9 for some tests. There are additional charges if the tests need to be sent to a lab. Sports or physical exams for school are only $50.
Express Care clinics don’t write long-term prescriptions, however, they do offer bridge prescriptions. The clinics do not write prescriptions for opiates or other controlled substances.
To learn more about Express Care, find a clinic near you or make an appointment visit our website.
Don’t forget, it’s flu season.
Get a flu vaccination at an Express Care clinic near you.