2006-08-03 / Front Page

Walk-in Clinic To Open at Mackinac Straits Hospital

By Paul Gingras

Receiving diagnosis and treatment for many ailments will soon become more convenient at Mackinac Straits Hospital when a new walk-in clinic is established. Open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the clinic will allow patients to see a physician without an appointment at a time convenient to the patient. The walk-in service will cost the same as a scheduled appointment in a physician's office and less than treatment in the emergency room.

Now, there will be no need to rush to a clinic on Friday, in anticipation that a bad cold will turn to something worse on Saturday, or to miss work during the day to take a child in for a sore throat, or to fret about whether a weekend ankle sprain is worth going to the emergency room for. Open evenings, and all day Saturday and Sunday, the walk-in clinic will provide quick, high quality medical care,

said Tamie Hartwig, the director of Acute Care and the Emergency Department.

The new service is expected to be available before September 1, at the main entrance to the hospital.

The project, Mrs. Hartwig said, is an effort to centralize service for walk-in patients. Unlike the Medical Building and Primary Care Clinic, the new clinic will not accept appointments. To be staffed by a rotating pool of emergency room physicians, the walk-in clinic is hoped to alleviate long waits by walk-ins at the other clinics, where physicians are seeing patients with appointments.

"To provide patients with the appropriate level of care as quickly as possible, they will be evaluated by an emergency room nurse prior to being sent to the walk-in facility," said Dr. Jeff Bender, an emergency room physician. If urgent or higher levels of care are needed, patients will be taken to the Emergency Department.

During times when the walk-in clinic physician is responding to an emergency, some waiting can be expected.

Dr. Bender is CEO of the Eastern Upper Peninsula Emergency Physicians, an independent organization that now provides all the emergency physician services at Mackinac Straits Hospital, as well as Helen Newberry Joy Hospital in Newberry and War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie.

Mrs. Hartwig said Mackinac Straits Hospital also hopes to contract with Northern Michigan Hospital for an ER physician to help staff the walk-in clinic and emergency room, since the hospital here has such a strong relationship with that facility.

When it's opened later this month, signs will direct patients to the new walk-in clinic.

"The walk-in clinic will be designed for speed and efficiency, but it should not be used as a replacement of your primary care physician," said Mrs. Hartwig. Patients with serious ailments or multiple problems, she added, should go directly to the Emergency Department or call 91-1, if necessary.

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