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Urgent Care opens

August 30, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Right down to the Highlights magazines on the tables, Urgent Care at Robinwood is ready for its first patients on Sept. 4.

Urgent Care will provide immediate care - not emergency care - to patients with minor injuries or nonacute illnesses. When people cannot get in to see their physicians, they can go there, Washington County Hospital spokeswoman Kelly Redmond said.

Open seven days a week from noon to 7 p.m., the new center is the first of its kind in Washington County. It will only be closed on the seven major holidays.

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Typical cases could include cuts, minor fractures, sprains, allergic reactions, colds and earaches. Sore throats, joint or muscle pain, eye injuries or back pain complaints could also be treated at Urgent Care.

A physician, licensed practical nurse and radiology technician will staff the center which will also have X-ray and lab services available.

"No appointment is necessary. You just walk in and sign up, and you're taken in the order you sign up, whereas if you go to the emergency room, the emergencies will take priority," Redmond said.

Located on the first floor of the Robinwood Medical Center, Suite 147, the new service is accessible through the blue entrance at 11110 Medical Campus Road in Hagerstown.

An open house Thursday afternoon introduced elected officials, hospital staff and community leaders to Urgent Care.

"We are designed to augment, not replace, Expresscare at Washington County Hospital," said Brenda Vitucci, registered nurse and Urgent Care program coordinator.

She said she sees Urgent Care as ideal for people who don't have regular doctors, or who are unable to see their doctors after hours or on weekends. It is also for the uninsured.

For those without insurance, payment or partial payment is expected at the time of service. Cash, personal checks and credit cards are accepted.

Those with insurance will need to pay any co-pay on registration and will get a bill. X-ray and lab services will be billed separately.

If people show up at Urgent Care with an emergency situation, the staff will immediately call 911 while stabilizing the patient until an ambulance arrives, Vitucci said.

Dr. Tom Gilbert, director of the Washington County Hospital emergency department, said the hours and level of staffing at Urgent Care will be adjusted depending on demand for services.

"This new service will help decompress the emergency room," Gilbert said.

Acute patients necessarily require more time and attention from medical staff and they will be more likely to get that level of care when the nonemergency cases can be handled elsewhere, he said.

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