ST. MARYS – In order to make health care for area residents more efficient, Elk Regional Health Center (ERHC) has developed the Q Care service for non-urgent health care needs that will allow people to be seen for more minor ailments and avoid lengthy waits in the center's emergency department.
Q Care, which is operated out of the regular emergency department at ERHC in St. Marys, is available seven days a week from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. According to Jim Condon, R.N., the nurse manager at ERHC's emergency department, the goal of Q Care is to quickly and efficiently address minor health problems that still require being seen by a healthcare professional.
“Q Care is a faster method of addressing unexpected but non-emergency ailments, such as earaches; sprains and strains; cuts, burns, bumps and bruises; sore throats; flu-like symptoms; and minor aches and pains. Patients suffering from these conditions sometimes come to the emergency department because their physician's office is already closed for the evening. Other patients come to the emergency department because it is more convenient for them to come to Elk Regional as opposed to driving to MedExpress," Condon said. "Q Care is designed to serve these patients while alleviating congestion in the full emergency department, reducing wait times there and allowing specially-trained physicians and nurses to focus on true emergency care.”
Dr. George Castellano, medical director of Elk Regional's emergency department, said Q Care officially opened in August based on patient feedback.
"Our patients told us that they want walk-in service and a faster, simpler, more convenient way to be seen for non-emergency medical conditions. The introduction of Q Care at Elk Regional responds to all of these concerns and empowers our patients to get health care services when and where it works best for them,” Castellano said.
Char Floravit, public relations director at ERHC, said Q Care is staffed by a full-time Registered Nurse and patients will be treated by either a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner or physician assistant.
“Q Care allows us to treat less emergent patients in a quicker manner, allowing the ED physicians to focus on the traumas and serious injuries and illnesses that come to the Emergency Department every day. "If they are put in Q Care and it is later determined that they should be seen in the emergency department, we will have the patient be treated as an ED patient and have the ED physician treat them," Floravit said.
Q Care also has what is known as the “Same-Day Promise,” which allows people with acute conditions to have access to providers at ERHC’s primary care physician offices the same day they are seen through Q Care, if necessary.
“The Same-Day Promise is an initiative designed to offer patients quicker access to a health care provider. The Same-Day Promise expedites care for those suffering from minor, symptomatic medical issues such as sore throats, fevers, pink eye, colds, ear aches, flu-like symptoms, coughs, infections, and minor sprains. When a patient suffering from these ailments calls their primary care practitioner, Elk Regional will offer that patient the next-available appointment that day,” said Larry J. Zimmel, vice president of physician services, Elk Regional Professional Group.
Same-day appointments will be made with a person's family doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant in that office. As part of the Same-Day Promise, patients will also have access to any diagnostic services they need, such as the laboratory and radiology.
“If follow-up care is necessary, Q Care patients can see their family doctor. Because Q Care is located in the emergency department, patients who require more advanced care can quickly be seen by an emergency department doctor. Q Care patients who need additional care can also be quickly admitted to our medical/surgical floor, admitted to our intensive care unit, or admitted to Pinecrest Manor, our long-term care facility. Patients who come in to Q Care also have access to all of Elk Regional’s physicians and specialists,” Castellano said.
Floravit said all of ERHC’s records are electronic, so whether a patient is treated in the emergency department, Med Express at the Ridgway campus or Q Care, and is ordered lab and radiology tests, a person’s primary care doctor has immediate access to all of their information.