For-Profit Clinic Offers Alternative For Health Care


THERE’S A NEW PLAYER ON THE LOCAL HEALTH CARE
SCENE, DOCTORS EXPRESS IS A NATIONAL CHAIN OF FOR PROFIT URGENT CARE CLINICS THEY OPENED
IN SANTEE THEY PROMISE QUICK CONVENIENT CARE WITHOUT AN APPOINTMENT. WE HAVE THE STORY. MOST CLINICS ARE LOCATED NEAR HOSPITALS OR
MEDICAL OFFICE BUILDINGS. DOCTORS EXPRESS IS IN A STRIP MALL. IT’S STEPS AWAY FROM A
RESTAURANT. WE HAVE A TYPICAL EXAMINE ROOM. THEY HAVE A COMPLETE LABORATORY. STREP THROAT, FLU, WIDE ARRAY OF OTHER TESTS. EXTRA MACHINES AND UNLIKE RETAIL CLINICS AND
DRUG STORES, THEY ARE STAFFED BY PHYSICIANS. WHAT BRINGS YOU TODAY. INSTEAD OF WRITING
ON A PAPER CHART. THE DOCTOR MAKES NOTES ON A COMPUTER PAD. THE GOAL AT DOCTOR’S EXPRESS IS TO EASE THE PRESSURE
OFF OF HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOMS. THEIR JOB IS TO SEE THE LIFE THREATENING THINGS
AND NOT BE BURDENED WITH THE SORE THROATS AND MINOR THINGS THAT WE CAN HANDLE HERE THE
OTHER THING WE CAN FILL IS THE PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR THAT IS BOOKED TO SEE SOMEBODY FOR
AN URGENT PROBLEM. WELL MY REGULAR DOCTOR IS ALWAYS BUSY, YOU
HAVE TO KIND OF MAKE AN APPOINTMENT IN ADVANCE, AND THE SECONDARY DOCTOR THAT I GO TO DOES
NOT WORK ON MONDAYS AND THAT LEAVES ME WITH A NURSE PRACTITIONER THEY ARE AND I PREFER
TO SEE A REGULAR DOCTOR. SHE DID NOT HAVE A APPOINTMENT AND THAT IS NOT PROBLEM HERE. IT WAS NICE AND IT WAS CLEAN AND I HAVE BEEN
TO OTHER URGENT CARES AND THEY ARE ALWAYS WILL REALLY BUSY AND YOU HAVE TO WAIT FOR
HOURS AND HOURS AND I CAME HERE AND GOT IN QUICKLY. THE OWNER OF THE CLINIC SAID THAT HE CHOSE
THIS SPOT BECAUSE OF ITS POPULATION LEVEL AND INCOME AND LACK OF SIMILAR FACILITIES
IN THE AREA. $108 IS THE PRICE FOR A VISIT. THEY ACCEPT ALL MAJOR INSURANCE PLANS AND
THERE’S A DISCOUNT FOR PEOPLE THAT PAY CASH. THE UNINSURED HAVE TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. IF IT’S AN URGENT SITUATION WHERE THEY ARE
BLEEDING, WE WILL DO WHAT WE CAN FOR THEM AND SEND THEN ON THEIR WAY. BUT, WE ARE NOT
REALLY IN A PLACE WHERE WE CAN PROVIDE FREE CARE. DOCTOR’S EXPRESS CAN TURN AWAY PATIENTS THAT
CANNOT PAY. HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOMS ARE REQUIRED TO TREAT EVERYONE. SCRIPPS MERCY EMERGENCY ROOM SAID THAT OVER
CROWDING HAS BEEN A HEADACHE. THAT HAS LONG BEEN A BIG PROBLEM FOR EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS
ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY, WE HAVE PATIENTS COMING OUT OF OUR EARS, WE HAVE MORE PATIENTS THAN
WE CAN FIT. MANY OF THEM DO NOT NEED TO BE IN AN EMERGENCY
ROOM. A STUDY BY THE RAND CORPORATION ESTIMATES 27% OF ER PATIENTS COULD BE TREATED AT A DOCTOR’S
OFFICE OR URGENT CARE CLINIC. IT’S POSSIBLE THAT CLINICS LIKE DOCTOR’S EXPRESS COULD KEEP
THOSE LEVELS DOWN FOR THEM. BUT IF THAT HAPPENED HERE ER WOULD STAY IN BUSINESS. WE WOULD WITH STILL HAVE PLENTY OF TRAFFIC
AND UNINSURED PATIENTS THAT HAVE NOWHERE ELSE TO GO AND PLENTY OF PATIENTS WITH MAJOR EMERGENCIES,
IT WOULD MAKE MY PRACTICE OF MEDICINE NOT AS INTERESTING. NOT AS VARIED. NOT AS FULL.
BUT WE WOULD CERTAINLY STILL HAVE PLENTY OF CUSTOMERS. OKAY THIS IS A TRIAGE AREA. PAUL SAID THAT DOCTOR’S EXPRESS IS NOT TRYING
TO STEAL BUSINESS FROM ANYONE, THEY ARE NOT EQUIPPED TO HANDLE LIVE HANDLE LIFE –TO HANDLE LIFE THREATENING CONDITIONS. SAN DIEGO COUNTY IS NOT UNDER SUPPLIED IN
TERMS OF HEALTHCARE, IT IS QUITE RICH. THERE ARE GAPS AND AND OPPORTUNITIES THOSE ARE THE
AREAS THAT –AND THOSE ARE THE AREAS THAT I’M INTERESTED IN. KENNY GOLDBERG KPBS NEWS.

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