Hospital considers urgent care funding

In an attempt to provide more services at a lower cost , Carson-Tahoe Hospital is expanding into the urgent care business.

But rather than run the clinics itself, the hospital will bring in a local company to help with start-up costs.

Last year, hospital trustees approved a $1 million agreement with Physicians Select Management to establish urgent care clinics.

"We're getting a big request from employers for something that is less expensive than our emergency room," hospital chief executive Steve Smith said. "Businesswise, it helps us."

Hospital trustees will decide Thursday whether to release $500,000 of the $1 million they set aside to start an urgent care in Carson City. Hospital and PSM management developed a plan to start a clinic, which would be a cheaper alternative to the emergency room for patients and insurance plans.

Leonard Hamer, PSM executive director, said if the funding is approved, he would like to see the center open by the end of the summer. Locations in north and central Carson are being considered, he said.

The hospital's money would pay for the start-up costs of the operation like equipment and rem, which Hamer said he hopes will come in under $500,000. The management company contracts with doctors to run the clinic and manages it.

"We're trying to coordinate this service, which is urgent care," Hamer said. "We bring certain things to the table like how to develop a physician's practice and manage it, and then the hospital brings to the table the presence of being a hospital and some capital. It's better than if either of us did it alone."

An urgent-care facility would be open for 12 hours daily for walk-in appointments and urgent but non-emergency care for those looking for help without heading to the emergency room. It would also offer after-hour coverage for doctors.

It would house an occupational medicine center, which would provide services like pre-employment physicals and drug and alcohol screenings. Employers would be able to have a doctor come to their business to discuss ways to stay healthy in the workplace.

"We're trying to provide more affordable health care to our community," hospital Trustee Pete Livermore said. "It allows people to be seen quicker at a reasonable price. We feel it's a good partnership with our community and our physicians."

The hospital turned over the operation of Minden Medical Center's urgent care center, the hospital's Douglas County satellite, to the management company in October 1999. The center was losing $30,000 a month under hospital management, but turned a profit last month under PSM's management.

Hamer said fears that the urgent care in Minden would turn away Medicare and Medicaid patients were unfounded, and the center is seeing more patients than ever.

There are at least three other urgent care centers in Carson City, but Hamer said he believes there is room for another. The hospital and PSM are also considering centers for Dayton and Lake Tahoe.

If you go:

What: Carson-Tahoe Hospital Board of Trustees

When: Thursday, education session at 4 p.m., regular meeting begins at 5 p.m.

Where: the Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.


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