On July 2nd, Door County Medical Center’s Urgent Care opened its brand new doors, showcasing a state-of-the-art facility designed to improve service for walk-in patients with acute needs. Open 12 hours a day, 365 days a year, these improvements make an exceptional facility even more accessible to our community.
Originally opened in January of 2012, Urgent Care was located in the former Emergency Room area. “The impetus for creating Urgent Care in the first place was our community and business partners telling us we need better access that’s not expensive like the emergency room. We needed a facility to address acute issues without an appointment. That’s how it started,” explains Sandy Vandertie, RN, Outpatient Services Director at DCMC.
Patient Needs First
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average number of people in Door County over age 65 is 25.4%. People ages 65-75 grew by 16% over the past 5 years and those over age 85 during the same period grew by 10%. The new Urgent Care facility addresses the needs of this demographic in a very noticeable way: the entrance is now located near the front of the ER.
“Our population of elderly and older retirees have multiple diagnoses or health issues that they are chronically managing and that’s what we’re here for,” says Vandertie, “but we needed to be more visible, not have them walk all the way around the building every time. We knew we could do better.”
The new design was a collaborative effort by a team of providers and staff who met regularly every other week. To ensure that patients’ needs were included in the planning, they used feedback from patient surveys and comments. Each member of the team brought in their unique perspective from working every day within their specific role at Urgent Care.
Privacy, Comfort, Technology
Within the new facility are six new rooms, three spacious bathrooms plus cubby areas to make things functional for folks in wheelchairs. “The first room a patient sees after registration is intentionally designed to be inclusive, especially for those seated in a wheelchair,” adds Vandertie.
The former Urgent Care had four rooms, two of which were across from a public hallway.
“In the spirit of privacy and confidentiality, we wanted to provide an area that we can absolutely guarantee both to all of our patients,” says Vandertie. The new waiting area was purposely designed to not be large for privacy reasons as well. “If there’s a lot of extra family or overflow, we’re going to encourage them to go to the other waiting areas where there’s a television. We want to keep this area as quiet and manageable as possible.”
Another improvement is the addition of computers and printers in every room, empowering providers to create and print discharge instructions right there with the patient. “Before, the nurse had to drag a shared laptop back and forth throughout each room. We try to be motivated with time, with the caveat that we’re still going to take care of you the right way. Having access to this technology is incredibly helpful,” says Vandertie.
The Choice is Yours
There are several reasons why a patient may feel more comfortable presenting to Urgent Care rather than the Emergency room. The advantage of being in Door County Medical Center is that both entities are literally across the hall from one another. “We offer flexibility for our patients to choose where they think they need to be cared for. If they happen to choose incorrectly, that they would be better served in the ER, then it is our job as health care providers to help them understand and explain why they are going to be better served in the emergency room,” says Vandertie.
“I think for somebody who’s really mindful about trying to utilize the right space at the right time for the right cost you have multiple options. Urgent Care is similar to an appointment in your provider’s office,” says Vandertie, “although we are separate departments with separate staff, my ER nurses are cross-trained to work in Urgent Care because, from a patient care perspective, I think it’s valuable for us to understand how each other works differently so that we work better together.”
Urgent Care is open 7am-7pm everyday, including all holidays. We are on schedule to transition Saturday outpatient lab from the clinic to the new urgent care area on Saturday, August 4. The hours for outpatient lab will remain 8am-12pm.
If you want to learn more about the differences between Urgent Care and our Emergency Room services, please call 920-743-5566.