By Debra Moore
People get sick or hurt themselves when it’s not always convenient; when it’s not 8 to 5 Monday through Friday. And even if it is during those weekday hours, there’s no guarantee that there is an appointment available at a local medical clinic to accommodate them.
Eastern Plumas Health Care in Portola saw that need reflected in the calls to their clinics seeing appointments for acute care and the visits to the emergency room, that was a last resort because there was no other way to see a physician.
The result: Urgent access for clinic visits Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Portola Clinic at 480 First Ave. The phone number is 530-832-6600. Urgent access enables patients to visit the clinic without an appointment six days a week.
“We were trying to prevent people from having to drive to Reno or Truckee,” said Eastern Plumas Health Care Chief Executive Officer Doug McCoy. The clinic began with urgent access two days a week, but the hours expanded to six days a week due to the demand and popularity of the care.
“It’s been very well received,” said Paul Bruning, who oversees the EPHC clinics, and he added that the usage has exceeded what was projected.
The urgent access has been utilized primarily thus far by Portola and Graeagle residents, as well as visitors to the area. But it’s also an option for other Plumas County residents.
Bruning said that without urgent access, people would be forced to wait for care or go to the emergency room, which is much more expensive. Urgent access, on the other hand, is charged as a typical clinic visit. If someone goes to urgent access needing a great level of care than the clinic can provide, then the hospital emergency room is just across the parking lot.
Both Bruning and McCoy said that they are pleased with the success of the program, reiterating that the need is there.