Putting the ‘care’ in Urgent Care
Every Sunday afternoon, you can find me greeting and escorting patients, cleaning rooms and fetching cups of water as a volunteer in the Beaumont Grosse Pointe Emergency Center. What once began as an effort to gain an inside look at the workings of a hospital and explore the medical field exposed me to much more than that. Watching from behind the front desk I learned more about the issues in our community and the health care system than about how to succeed in the medical field.
Beaumont Grosse Pointe is located at Cadieux and Jefferson, right on the border of the affluent suburbs of Grosse Pointe and the outskirts of Detroit. The majority of patients that come in are low-income families from the Metro Detroit area.
For impoverished families, which many residents of a bankrupt city find themselves struggling with, the EC is the only way to obtain medical advice and assistance. Most of the time, the patient comes in complaining of common, non-emergent symptoms such as back pain, upsets stomachs or shortness of breath.
Growing up in a caring and comfortable home, whenever I came down with the flu my mom took a trip up to the pharmacy at the end of my street and bought some Dayquil. Treatment was always affordable and accessible. But for others, including many in my neighboring city, this isn’t so. Their parents may not know how to help them. Their parents may not be able to afford to help them. They might not have anyone to help them.
Which is why they came here, to the Emergency Center, even when their symptoms mimicked those of the seasonal cold. In an EC, the staff cannot deny care to anyone, no matter how menial their ailment is or if they can even afford the visit or have insurance to cover it.
But this means that beds in the EC are being filled with patients that really only need a prescription for some Azithromycin and a safe place to recover. However, they come here because it’s the only place where they can find quality care that’s free of charge.
Unfortunately, this takes up time and resources of doctors and nurses that might be needed for more dire situations. It leaves people waiting in rooms for a simple fix for hours, and those who really need it suffering the most.
To fix this, there needs to be an alternative place where people who need limited care with limited resources to obtain it can go. Thankfully, there’s this great place called Urgent Care. Just a step below an Emergency Center but should be able to provide people with the same quality of care. But this isn’t the case.
Some people who have come into the EC have already tried the Urgent Care, but they weren’t given proper attention and left feeling just as miserable as when they came in. This could be caused by a lack of staff training, lack of resources and funding or even a lack of effort at the Urgent Care level.
Urgent Care centers deserve the same amount of attention as an EC receives, because if they fulfilled their purposes, they would be fulfilling half the tasks of an EC. This would help conserve space, resources and time in bustling ECs such as the one in Beaumont Grosse Pointe. And the costs of those expensive, unpaid EC bills that are eventually left to taxpayers would be cut.
But to successfully fill that purpose they need some revitalization. Along with updates, urgent cares should be held accountable under the same laws as ECs, meaning that they would be bound by law to treat anyone who came in, or at least not require payment up-front. When you or those who are close to you get sick, people shouldn’t have to endeavor to pricy ECs for good care. Everyone deserves access to quick medical attention, especially those that may not have the abilities to treat themselves.
Instead of transforming the entire way we insure those who cannot afford health care through a new health care act, we should transform how we give care. Unpaid bills that inevitably fall back on taxpayers won’t be as heavy, and everyone can have access to accessible and appropriate treatment.