Express Care will decrease waits for walk-ins at CCMH

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By Jeff Moore

Walk-in patients’ concerns about long waits will be addressed as Carroll County Memorial Hospital adds a new Express Care service.

Beginning July 1, walk-in patients at Carroll County Family Practice will be seen by the new Express Care nurse practitioner, no longer impacting scheduled appointments with its doctors.

CCMH Chief Executive Officer Michael Kozar said Express Care will operate Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., including through the lunch hour.

While it is part of the family practice, Express Care will operate separately with its own staff and its own nurse practitioner, he said.

“We listen to our patients,” Kozar said. They have told hospital officials they want to be seen in a more timely manner.

CCMH has hired nurse practitioner Mary Blattman for Express Care. She joins the CCMH staff with a background in working at urgent care facilities in Toledo, Ohio.

The company her husband works for transferred them to the area.

The need for this new service was clear, Kozar said, pointing to a recent day at the family practice.

When the office reopened after lunch, he said there were 14 walk-in patients waiting to be seen, in addition to the patients who had scheduled appointments.

“Somebody’s going to be waiting three hours or longer,” he said, in a situation such as this.

To accommodate walk-ins, the family practice has left one of its four scheduled appointments open each hour to allow for walk-in patients. But Kozar said this was no longer working with the increased demand CCFP was seeing.

In 2013, the family practice treated 1,691 walk-in patients. Based on the first three months of this year, walk-in visits are on track to hit 2,620 annualized visits, he said.

This increase is likely due to the expansion of Medicaid through Kentucky’s kynect program, Kozar said. Additionally, he said more of these patients are needing primary care.

Adding the Express Care service will allow the family practice to again book patients for all four appointments it has each hour, helping to improve its service to these people.

“We saw we had a problem,” Kozar said. By separating walk-ins from scheduled clinic visits, he believes the situation will improve, addressing the frustration of both patients and staff.

Express Care will allow patients to come in for their immediate needs. Those who have chronic conditions or need to have their prescriptions refilled should continue to see their doctors at family practice during scheduled visits.

Express Care is designed for someone who gets up and doesn’t feel well because of a stomach ache, a cold or flu.

Candy Dawes, who recently rejoined CCFP as its practice manager, said Express Care can help people avoid missing a full day of work. Someone who brings in a child early can have their medical need addressed and then return to work without having to miss an entire day.

While the two will operate with separate staff and even through separate windows, Express Care will be “a practice inside a practice.” This is good news for patients who will pay their regular doctor’s office visit copay to visit Express Care, instead of the often higher copay plans require for visits to an urgent care facility.

Dawes said this means they have regular copays of $15 to $20, instead of the higher ones that many insurance plans have for urgent care facilities. These can run from $50 or more, depending on the plan.

“I think it’s another way our organization is looking at how we improve the services we provide the community,” Kozar said.

Dawes agrees. “I think it’s going to be great,” she said.

Kozar said a lot of work and thought has gone into developing Express Care, based on what they have heard from their patients.

“Hopefully this gives the community another avenue for health care,” he said.