Mercy's new clinics differ in services, hours

Friday, January 4, 2008

Local residents who are in need of medical attention are finding it easier to access professional care.

Mercy Health Center has taken steps to make health care more convenient for local residents with the addition of both an Urgent Care @ Mercy, which is located at Mercy Health Center, 410 Woodland Hills Blvd., and Mercy Quick Care, which is located at Woods Supermarket, 2322 S. Main St.

Although it may, at first glance, seem that both health care facilities address the same health problems, Mercy Health Center nurse practitioner Lynieta Leisure explained to members of the Fort Scott Rotary on Wednesday that the services offered at each location differ, as do the times of operation.

The urgent care facility, which opened on Sept. 4., has been extremely successful, drawing a high volume of patients needing treatment, Leisure said.

"We have seen over 2,500 patients at urgent care," she said.

Urgent care, Leisure said, is for acute illnesses. The nurse practitioners treat patients for minor illnesses and injuries ranging from minor respiratory infections, sprains and strains, minor lacerations, insect bites and rashes, and suture removal. The center also offers physician back up with minor X-ray and lab services available.

Insurance is accepted at the urgent care facility, with Mercy staff filing insurance claims for the patients. However, quick care does not offer this service to its patients -- an effort to keep overhead costs down. The low overhead costs enable Mercy to offer services to customers at the quick care facility at a lower rate, Leisure said. Even though the staff at the quick care center does not file insurance claims for patients, Mercy Health Center Director of Marketing and Development Carla Bryant Farmer said that those being treated are more than welcome to file quick care claims with their insurance companies on their own. The absence of the claim filing service not only allows Mercy to offer care at a lower price, but it also enables the nurse practitioners to provide care at a faster rate, Leisure said.

Since opening its doors, quick care has been serving locals who have minor health care needs. According to Leisure, the volume of patients seeking care at quick care was low at first, but the numbers have been consistently picking up. Most services offered at quick care cost $55, which is expected at the time of service. However, Mercy Health Center nurse practitioner Jackie Foreman said that the $55 base rate does not cover the costs of shots that may be needed at the time of service. quick care offers treatment for specific ailments, Foreman explained. At quick care, patients can receive treatment for infections, rashes and bites. In addition ear, eye and head related illnesses can be treated. Patients with respiratory conditions such as cold, flu, sore throat, strep throat, bronchitis and coughs can also receive help at the quick care center. For patients suffering from digestive discomforts, the nurse practitioners at quick care can offer aid. Along with these minor illnesses, the nurse practitioners offer well-checks at the clinic. Cholesterol and glucose screenings can be performed for $20, and patients can have their blood pressure levels checked for $5.

Although quick care is an accessible and a useful tool for most area residents, Foreman said that the clinic cannot serve children who are under the age of five.

Mercy employs three nurse practitioners, who are closely supervised by Mercy Physician John Fox. These three women rotate shifts between the quick care, which operates from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, and the urgent care center, which operates from 3:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday. The urgent care center is also open from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

According to Foreman, the nurse practitioners will begin assisting the local physicians with diabetic education of patients as well as operating the urgent care and the quick care facilities.

Farmer said that it is important for patients to continue to establish a relationship with their primary care physicians. The urgent care and quick care facilities are useful at times when a patient can't access his or her regular physician.