Cottage Health, a not-for-profit medical care provider, is opening an urgent care clinic in San Luis Obispo and nine other locations along the coast. All promise to offer shorter wait times.
The location for the San Luis Obispo clinic has not yet been decided, but the clinic will appear as a retail store front. The first of the 10 facilities will be completed in the summer of 2020, according to the news release.
The clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, including holidays. They will offer x-rays, lab testing and medication services, according to a news release.
Each facility will have a licensed nurse practitioner and a patient concierge team made up of medical assistants, registered vocational nurses and one radiology technician. Their goal is to limit patient handoffs to get people in and out within 30 minutes, according to the administrative director of urgent care operations Taryn O’Connell.
“If we need multiple sites within a close vicinity to keep the integrity of that thirty minute door to door time we would be adding sites as well,” O’Connell said.
The urgent care clinic will accept MediCare, Medi-Cal and its associated plans, some commercial insurance and self-pay for uninsured patients.
The clinic can also help people with undocumented residency.
“We accept anyone who needs health care regardless of their status,” Marketing Director Bob Behbehanian said.
Urgent care is most helpful for people with minor injuries or illnesses such as a sprain, strep throat and urinary tract infections (UTIs). The clinic cannot adequately help patients manage chronic conditions such as diabetes.
The clinic can meet with people who may have been sexually assaulted or abused and refer people to the appropriate care, but they can only abide by company guidelines they have in place for these situations, according to Behbehanian. All licensed medical professionals, including those at the Cal Poly Health Center, are mandated reporters for sexual assault.
“If we can’t treat anyone for any reason we will be referring them to one or multiple appropriate other resources within the community to make sure they get connected with the care that they need,” O’Connell said.
In addition to walk-ins, the Cottage Health urgent care facility will accept reservations, or appointments. They also offer a virtual health platform in which patients can meet with a medical care provider online or through video and get a treatment plan within an hour for $29 to $39. This is available 24 hours and seven days a week, Behbehanian said.
“It’s a good option for folks who maybe aren’t sure if they should see someone and would feel more comfortable being seen online rather than going into a waiting room,” Behbehanian said.
This system can be especially useful for anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, Behbehanian said. The system is being updated to ask questions that may identify symptoms of coronavirus based on Center for Disease Control guidelines and data.
O’Connell said she believes the Cottage Health urgent care system will be more efficient than most urgent care providers due to their 30 minute policy and retail model, improving basic access to health care.
“Urgent care in general is one of the fastest growing health care demands, so it’s demonstrated that patients and consumers are looking for this service,” O’Connell said. “We felt like we could do a really good job and put it in locations where people are needing that additional health care access.”