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Hospital opens urgent care center

October 15, 2014
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Hospital opens urgent care center
Holland Hospital’s urgent care center in Zeeland treats "minor injuries and illnesses" that don’t require a trip to the ER. Courtesy Holland Hospital

A hospital has opened a second urgent care center to combat projected increases in non-essential visits to the emergency room during a physician shortage.

Zeeland urgent care

Holland Hospital said this month that it has expanded the existing medical services at its office building in Zeeland, at 8300 Westpark Way.

The space now offers comprehensive urgent care services to provide cost-effective care for patients with minor injuries and illnesses.

“With urgent care, it is a huge cost savings over visiting the emergency department,” said Joe Bonello, director of urgent care and emergency services, Holland Hospital. “A typical urgent care visit is about a third of the cost of a typical emergency department visit. If we are able to help people save their dollars, especially with the health care market the way it is now, I think it is a good service for the community.”

The center will offer urgent care medical assistance for non-life-threatening concerns: minor cuts, burns and rashes; mild asthma; suspected bone fractures; sprains and strains; colds, cough and sore throat; ear, eye, skin or urinary tract infections; work or sport injuries; and the inability to get a same-day appointment with a primary care physician.

New physicians, nurses and mid-level providers, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners, have been hired to staff the new urgent care space.

Bonello said patients will have access to urgent care every day at the Zeeland office, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Market expansion

The site in Zeeland is the second urgent care location Holland Hospital offers to the surrounding community.

The hospital also offers urgent care services on the north side of Holland at its Lakeshore Medical Campus.

ER referrals

Those patients receiving urgent medical care who need ER services will typically be referred to Holland Hospital, depending on the type of care needed.

“The exception would be if there was some type of life-threatening situation where we would need to send someone to the nearest location and then Zeeland would become the nearest location,” said Bonello, referring to Zeeland Community Hospital. “Some of that also depends on what kind of services they need. If someone was having a heart attack . . . they would either go to Spectrum downtown or to Holland Hospital.”

Physician shortage

Holland Hospital was prompted to expand its services due to the growth of urgent care nationally, which has been driven recently by Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, Bonello said.

As the insured population grows, the number of primary care physicians can’t meet the demand, causing a projected influx of patients at the ER, who really are in need of urgent or primary care services.

Based on current patterns, increased demand for primary care services is expected to grow by 14 percent, and the number of physicians is expected to increase by 8 percent, creating a projected shortage of 20,400 physicians by 2020, according to a 2013 report on primary care practitioners by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“There is a primary care shortage both locally and nationally, and there aren’t enough primary care physicians to see the additional patients who are getting access to health care,” Bonello said. “We already struggle with inappropriate visits to the emergency department. We are trying to head that off at the pass by expanding urgent care coverage to get people into a more appropriate location for minor illnesses and injuries.”

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