The rumors had been circulating for a few weeks, but when the announcement came Thursday you could almost hear a citywide celebration starting – Sedalia will finally get an urgent care facility.
As reported by the Democrat’s Nicole Cooke, Jorge Guevara’s Guesa USA development company will turn the former Eddie’s Drive-In property into a 5,000- to 6,000-square-foot medical facility operated by American Family Care that will provide urgent and primary health care. Local residents have been vocal about their desire for such a facility for years, and their wishes now will be answered.
During our time living in Illinois and Arizona, my family was fortunate to have urgent care facilities readily available. There were times when our primary care physicians were not available and our medical issues did not rise to the level of an emergency room visit; on those occasions, we turned to urgent care for needed treatments on a first-come, first-served basis. Rarely did we wait more than an hour to be seen, and in most situations we were in and out in less than 90 minutes.
On one occasion in Mesa, Ariz., I had a kitchen accident and suffered a deep cut on my left hand. After failing to get the bleeding to stop, I went to the nearest urgent care facility and was seen immediately. In less than an hour, I had four stitches and all necessary insurance paperwork completed. If I had gone to the emergency room at the local hospital, it likely would have taken four to five times that long. While I needed a doctor’s attention, there were people suffering heart attacks and car crash victims whose needs were greater than mine.
I was glad to see Guevara draw the distinction between urgent care and emergency rooms.
“We do not take over the emergency room, we’re not an emergency room,” Guevara told Cooke. “The emergency room will always be top notch service and care like Bothwell (Regional Health Center) and they will take care of emergency and life-threatening injuries. We’re just another option for minor injuries.”
Adding an urgent care facility also should help streamline patients’ experiences at Bothwell’s Emergency Department.
“Without having a physician to provide after-hours care, people come to the emergency room for sore throats and colds, fevers, things that are not true emergencies but still require a doctor’s care,” said Lisa Church, Bothwell’s director of marketing and communications. An urgent care facility “will take some of those cases out of the emergency room so when things are true emergencies, they can be seen more quickly.”
Church said Bothwell has looked at providing an urgent care option in Sedalia many times, but “because of the guidelines we operate under, it was not financially feasible.” Since American Family Care specializes in urgent care, Church is hopeful they can provide “a good solution for the community.”
There are times when residents will need either urgent care or the emergency room to address their critical health needs, but neither of those options should replace primary care. As noted by The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that promotes high-quality health care: “Strong primary care is essential to improved health outcomes, lower costs, and increased equity, and the patient-centered medical home is a potentially key strategy for transforming primary care.”
We all should be grateful that Guevara is investing in our community again by adding an urgent care facility, which has great potential to improve quality of life so long as residents use urgent care and emergency rooms when those facilities are truly needed. Having a “medical home” with a primary care physician or clinic remains the best medicine to ensure consistent and lasting good health.
Bob Satnan is the communications director for Sedalia School District 200.