Urgent Care to close June 22

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By Alice Du Pont

Gadsden County's Urgent Care Center will remain open, with modifications, through June 21 when the hospital is due to open its doors. But whether the hospital opens or not, the Urgent Care Center will close its doors on June 22.

That recommendation was made following a committee meeting last week with representatives from the county's staff, Gadsden County Clerk of Courts Nicholas Thomas, Urgent Care Administrator Corey Fleming and the Gadsden County Health Department.

To fund the operation of the center, the county is depending on $32,000 in reimbursements from Medicaid, $30,000 in anticipated interest from the hospital trust fund and $30,000 from people using the services. Fleming said it takes about $60,000 per month to deliver the same level of service at seven days per week, eight hours each day.

He added that while he previously told commissioners that $30,000 could be derived from paying patients, the average monthly amount they have been collecting is approximately $10,000 per month.

A large part of the financial problems stem directly from people not paying for medical services, according to Fleming.

To save money, effective immediately, hours will remain the same, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., but the center will only open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Staff will be limited to one doctor, one nurse and one group leader. Radiology will be discontinued.

Residents with insurance will be required to pay the copay prior to receiving services. In the case of no insurance, service could be denied. The only people without resources who will be served are children and the critically ill.

Fleming said that in the past no one has been turned away because he felt the board gave direction when the center opened that it was a stop-gap measure because there was no hospital.

"I have used Urgent Care several times and I have paid. For the past 18 months I have asked for financial reports on the center and now we're just getting a report when the place is about to burn down," Commissioner Doug Croley said.

Fleming said he couldn't predict how much money will be saved but it would be "significant."