This is in regard to Dr. David Van Ryn’s Dec. 24 letter in the People’s Forum about urgent care clinics vs. hospital emergency departments (“Elkhart General’s emergency department cares for all”). He touts the benefits of EDs and maligns UCCs, but there are a couple of issues that he did not cover.
First, convenience. Scheduling a visit to the doctor usually means taking time off work. For many people, especially those who work in production, this means using a sick day or vacation time for what amounts to less than an hour at the doctor’s. If the worker has no time left, it often means either not seeing the doctor at all or risking being fired for taking too many days off. Urgent care clinics typically have extended hours, which allows these workers to get routine medical care without jeopardizing their jobs.
The second issue is cost. Several years ago I went to a local ED when I had my first kidney stone attack. I was examined, administered pain medication, given a CAT scan, informed of the prognosis and sent on my way. I spent about three hours in the ED. The total cost came to more than $3,500. I have a good-paying and steady job, and thus am expected to pay for the cost of the visit. With a $1,500 deductible and 80/20 up to the out-of-pocket, I paid nearly $2.000 for that visit, with the insurance company kicking in another $1,500-plus. If an urgent care facility had been available, the total cost would undeniably have been significantly less, as quick research verifies.
There is a need for hospital EDs to treat serious illnesses and traumas, but there is also a need for UCCs for treatment of more routine maladies at a reasonable cost and availability.