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KDMC clinic shifting to appt. basis

King’s Daughters Medical Center’s Quick Care Medical Clinic willbegin serving patients by appointment effective Friday, hospitalofficials announced Wednesday.

The move represents a change from the clinic’s past procedure ofserving primarily walk-in patients. Also, the clinic will no longeroperate on weekends.

“This could be a big transition for the public until they getused to the benefits,” said JoAnna Sproles, spokesperson for King’sDaughters Medical Center (KDMC), the hospital that operates theclinic.

Sproles said the clinic was moving to an appointment-basedmethod of administering medical care to fill an area-wide need forprimary health care.

“The demand for primary care or family practice physicians isnot currently being met in our community,” she said. “While we aretrying to fix that problem by recruiting additional family practicephysicians into the area, the best thing we know to do to bridgethat gap for now is to take appointments at our clinic to servethose patients that have to have routine care.”

Penny Vance, a certified family nurse practitioner at theclinic, elaborated on community health needs.

“There’s a lot of people in the community with diabetes, highblood pressure, asthma – problems that need to be treated on aregular basis, not just when the patient gets sick,” Vance said.”Our doctors had so many patients that no one was available to fillthat role.”

Vance said the clinic saw as many as 80 patients per day duringlast year’s flu season, making patients wait as long as four hoursbefore they could be seen. Adopting a schedule of appointments willallow the clinic to provide better health care to all its patientswhile reducing the wait time, she said.

“When you consider trying to see that many patients in a 10-hourday with just two physicians, it’s hard to be efficient,” Vancesaid. “With appointments, a patient will be preregistered over thephone. The day before the appointment, the patient’s chart and allthe information will be pulled, verified and ready. When you showup for your appointment, everything is there and you’re ready togo.”

Vance said appointments will be allotted certain amounts of timebased on a patient’s complaint, enabling the clinic’s physicians toquickly treat as many patients as possible.

“If you have strep throat, that doesn’t take as much time totreat as a broken arm or a laceration,” Vance said. “When anappointment is made, we’ll know what the patient is coming infor.

“The way it is now [with mostly walk-ins], we don’t even knowwhat the patients are really here for until they arrive,” shecontinued. “We don’t know if they’re being seen for one, two orthree different problems.”

Vance said appointments are now preferred by the clinic, but notmandatory. The clinic will reserve blocks of time in its dailyschedule, between appointments, to continue to see walk-ins.

Regarding the decision to close on weekends, Sproles said thenumber of patients who visit the clinic then was too unpredictableto maintain a full weekend staff. Sometimes, “only a trickle” ofpatients would show up, she said.

“Weekend scheduling became a gamble for us,” she said. “Therereally wasn’t a demand for the clinic on the weekends. People goout of town, or if they’re sick, they tend to stay at home andfight it on their own. It was just better for the clinic that westructured it to operate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6p.m.”