MultiCare Health System of Tacoma, joining a trend that is being played out by health care providers across the country, is setting up more urgent care centers, including three in Thurston County.
The Indigo (individuals on the go) urgent care location in Tumwater is set to open at 8 a.m. Thursday at 704 Trosper Road SW. The Lacey site is expected to open in January at 5128 Yelm Highway SE; the Olympia site at 345 Cooper Point Road NW will open in June.
More people have access to health care as a result of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, which has stimulated the need for more urgent care, or walk-in type, clinics.
For consumers who couldn’t previously see a doctor, or who were going to an emergency room for their primary care, urgent care is a “great way to see a medical provider,” said Dr. Julie Stroud, MultiCare’s urgent care medical director. She said they also can connect patients with primary care physicians or refer them to specialists.
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“We’re excited to be part of the puzzle to present options to the community,” Stroud said.
MultiCare launched its urgent-care clinics in June, and so far has opened locations in Tacoma, Tukwila, Covington, Mill Creek and the Wallingford neighborhood in Seattle. More clinics are planned in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties next year. A Puyallup location is set to open in March, she said.
Each Indigo clinic is staffed with a doctor, two advanced practitioners, four medical assistants and two radiology technologists. Patients are greeted by a health care “concierge” — likely a medical assistant — who hands them a tablet computer into which they enter personal information as well as why they need to see a doctor.
The centers also offer complimentary water, espresso, Internet service and charging stations, according to a news release. They are open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. seven days a week, including holidays, Stroud said.
So far, the average patient turnaround time is 35 minutes, Stroud said.
“That’s from the time you say ‘My name is’ to the time that you’re walking out the door with your instructions,” she said.
Urgent care centers are not emergency rooms, she said. Chest pain, breathing difficulties and abdominal pain should be evaluated at an ER.
The care centers are best for cold and flu symptoms, earaches, fevers, minor burns or bruises, minor fractures or sprains, a rash or poison ivy, a sore throat, skin complaints and urinary tract infections.
MultiCare is among several heath care providers that have opened urgent care centers in Thurston County.
Providence Medical Group recently opened an expanded walk-in clinic in west Olympia and recently partnered with Pacific Medical Centers to open a multi-specialty clinic, including immediate care, on College Street in Lacey.
UW Medicine, in partnership with Capital Medical Center, also has opened a neighborhood clinic, on Ensign Road in Olympia.