PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Patients and physicians will benefit from an alternative to the emergency room while helping to hold down the overall cost of health care thanks to a new service provided by The Aroostook Medical Center.
Walk-In Care, a clinic to treat minor medical concerns, opened Monday morning at North Street Healthcare, the new family health care center and medical mall in the North Street Plaza. Northstreet Healthcare is located in the building formerly occupied by Smythe’s IGA Plus.
The clinic will provide easy access to medical care for patients who otherwise would use the emergency room for minor medical problems. No appointment is necessary.
Walk-In Care is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. Weekend hours will be added in the coming months.
“This will allow us to better serve our patients who need care, but not the type that really requires an emergency room visit,” Glenda Dwyer, TAMC vice president of physician services, said Tuesday afternoon. “This is going to help ease congestion in the emergency room while also holding down the cost of health care.”
The clinic is just one of the benefits offered at the new health care mall. North Street Healthcare also offers adult primary care, pediatrics, dialysis, nephrology, patient billing and physical therapy services. Laboratory service is located on-site.
“We serve thousands of people through our emergency room, and a great number of these patients have a need that really does not necessitate an ER visit,” Dwyer said. “Now people will be able to receive comparable care at a lower cost to them.”
Dr. Jay Reynolds, TAMC chief operating officer and chief medical officer, agreed.
“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,” he said. “It is fast, convenient, easy, and no appointment is necessary.”
Dwyer stressed that the clinic is not a substitute for a primary care physician. Walk-In Care customers who do not have a primary care provider can be connected with a provider at the end of their visit.
Reynolds also said that Walk-In Care is not appropriate for emergency care.
“Anyone experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, broken bones, alcohol or drug overdose, or any other kind of medical emergency should call 911 or visit the closest emergency room,” said Reynolds.
Hospital officials said Walk-In Care costs will be comparable to a primary care office visit for most people.