Tucsonans now have a new health care choice, a new kind of urgent care center.
It has specialists on staff to treat children and adults for a variety of health issues that usually send people to a hospital emergency room when they have no place else to go.
Emergency rooms are meant for severe problems like heart attacks, strokes, bleeding, and trouble breathing. However, if your emergency isn’t quite that bad, a trip to the emergency room can mean a long wait and possibly being admitted until you can have tests and possibly be seen by a specialist.
The idea of the new urgent care is to cut costs and save patients’ time and frustration.
About two weeks ago Tatiana Marco had a horrible sore throat and was in severe pain. She was dehydrated and couldn’t swallow.
She had an abscess behind a tonsil that had to be drained. Her doctor told her to get to the hospital, and get checked in.
“I’m a mother of three and I don’t have time to be in the hospital,” Marco said.
A relative told her about Urgent Specialists at 2120 W. Ina Road, at Ina and La Cholla. It had opened in August.
Marco was treated by Dr. Robert Dean, an otolaryngologist, an ear, nose and throat specialist who is on staff.
She never had to go to the hospital.
Dean said Urgent Specialists is a full-service urgent care, but it’s also the first urgent care center in Arizona to have board-certified specialists on staff in ophthalmology, orthopedics and otolaryngology.
The center is staffed by nurse practitioners with the specialists on call.
The specialists can see patients who once had no choice but to go to the hospital.
“For the broken bones, as long as it does not penetrate the skin, would be an appropriate setting here. Sprains and strains,” Dean said. “From an ophthalmologic or eye standpoint, the things that we would see are foreign bodies or change in vision. And then from an ear nose and throat perspective, really bad sore throats.”
“There’s a lot of things we can manage on an outpatient setting without having patients go to the hospital or be admitted to the hospital And the problem for most patients is access to specialists when they have a condition that requires that level of care,” Dean said.
Dean said keeping patients from having to go the hospital emergency department saves hospital resources and saves the patient time and money.
“This is certainly the way to have patients to have access to a higher level of care without that higher level of cost. I think if we can do that, we can improve outcomes and decrease cost,” Dean said. “I think that that ability to have access to specialist in an urgent care basis really is one of the keys to being able to drive down health care costs.”
For Tatiana Marco, Urgent Specialists took care of more than her pain. She avoided the high cost of an ER visit and a hospital stay.
“I didn’t have to wait in the hospital, wait in the ER, then be admitted to the hospital. So it was actually a time saver and a money saver for me,” Marco said.
“I was in a lot of pain. That was scary, but I always felt like I was being taken care of. I had IV fluids. I had medication. I had the procedure I needed. I mean everything that I needed to have done to me I was able to have it done here,” Marco said.
Dean said Urgent Specialists accepts most health insurance, including Medicare and AHCCCS, Arizona’s version of Medicaid.
If this urgent care model is successful, Dean says they hope to open an east-side location within a year.
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