Mar 14, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Skaneateles Urgent Care center on West Genesee Street has reduced its operating hours on both weekdays and weekends in response to a system evaluation that determined the longer hours were no longer cost effective.
From a schedule that was 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, the Skaneateles Urgent Care center, which is owned and operated by Auburn Community Hospital, now operates 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and holidays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
“We did make some changes recently, going back to our original hours from a few years ago,” said Roz McCormick, vice president for public relations for Auburn Community Hospital. “The hospital feels very strongly about the availability of quality and efficient health care in Skaneateles. We are meeting the needs of the community, but we must constantly evaluate our services.”
She said these evaluations consider everything from patient usage and benefits to operational issues to profit margins.
The Skaneateles Urgent Care facility has been in Skaneateles since the 1990s. Its stated mission is to “provide treatment of patients suffering non-emergent conditions which require medical care when the services of their family physicians are not available, the patient does not prefer a private physician or the patient is unable to secure a private physician,” according to the Auburn Hospital website.
Skaneateles Urgent Care patients may either make an appointment or walk in for treatment.
The original intention of the Urgent Care center was to be available the extra hours when regular physicians’ offices are closed, McCormick said.
Although the new urgent care hours are not much different than private physician office hours, the Skaneateles Urgent Care center does play an important role in the community by offering walk-in services, having weekend and holiday hours, and being available to people with no access to primary care, whether it is people without a primary physician or tourists, McCormick said.
She said the Auburn Hospital emergency room is also available to people the hours the urgent care center is closed, and the hospital has recently implemented a “fast track” system for minor injuries and issues.
Not everyone is so positive about the new operating hour changes, however.
“Urgent care by definition is there for convenience,” said Thomas H. Dennison, a health policy expert and director of the health services management policy program at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. “To cut back on hours really is not contributing much value to a community unless the patients cannot get in to a regular doctor during regular hours.”
One longtime Skaneateles resident, who asked not to be identified, recently took her daughter in for treatment at the Skaneateles Urgent Care center and said she was shocked at the new hours of the center, and wondered what need the urgent care filled, if not for extended hours.
Finger Lakes Medical Care, Auburn: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekends
Camillus urgent care: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekends
Fayetteville urgent care: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week
Liverpool urgent care: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week
Crouse Prompt Care, Syracuse: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week
“With the summer and the tourist season coming, that’s not the time to change your hours,” she said. “People can be injured on the lake until sunset, and now they will go and overcrowd the ER instead.”
The resident also said that during her recent visit to the urgent care center, she was “appalled” by the fact that there were no physicians on site. Instead, there are physician assistants (also called mid-levels) and registered nurses who see patients and then either email or call the supervising physician to verify the diagnosis and write a prescription for medication if necessary.
“It was a joke,” the Skaneateles resident said. “We waited two hours then were seen by a kid who looked like he was right out of college, and then had to wait while he called the doctor.”
Dennison said it is “not uncommon” to see the use of PAs and RNs in more rural areas and in some urgent care settings, but he does not support it.
“We are using mid-levels increasingly as a replacement for physicians, and they are not the same thing,” he said. “PAs have a role, there is no doubt about that. And it is the level of supervision that the physicians provide that matters.”
McCormick said that there is “always” a supervising physician available during business hours at the Skaneateles Urgent Care center, as well as the Finger Lakes Medical Care center in Auburn, which also run by the Auburn Community Hospital.
In the end, people should “not at all” worry about the reduced hours at the Skaneateles Urgent Care center, McCormick said. “We are there to serve the community,” she said, adding that if the urgent care is closed, the hospital is only about five miles away.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.