UCHealth Urgent Care saw more patients than expected in one year of service
When officials originally predicted the number of patients UCHealth Urgent Care in Steamboat Springs could attract, they estimated 10 patients per day. Yet, in the first year of operation, the Urgent Care center that is open seven days a week topped out at 48 patients on its busiest day.
That demanding day happened on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, during the Christmas holidays when Steamboat was active with winter tourists and skiers. Spring Break season also was busy at UCHealth Urgent Care, which sees the most patients 8-9 a.m. on Mondays and Saturdays.
“Since opening one year ago, the number of patients we have been able to care for has far exceeded anyone’s expectations, which speaks to the demand for services in our community,” said Casey Homuth, nursing supervisor at UCHealth Urgent Care. “The overwhelming support and positive feedback we’ve had from our community has been tremendous.”
UCHealth officials say the addition of the new urgent-level facility is accomplishing the goal of providing more options and convenience for the community. Statistics from the past year show that more non-emergency patients chose Urgent Care instead of the hospital’s Emergency Department because emergency room visits increased in severity. That is a positive step for directing patient needs to the most appropriate and cost-effective level of care, said Sue Golden, certified physician assistant at UCHealth Urgent Care.
“The Emergency Department at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center has had a consistent census over the past year,” noted Lindsey Reznicek, YVMC communications strategist. “They have, however, seen a higher acuity level in patients, which tells us UCHealth Urgent Care is doing exactly what it is intended to do: care for patients with minor illnesses and injuries.”
UCHealth Urgent Care is staffed by six full-time providers including five certified physician assistants and one family/emergency nurse practitioner as well as support staff.
Steamboat Medical Group, 1475 Pine Grove Rd., has offered the Steamboat Urgent Care option for many years that is open Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Steamboat Medical Group and Yampa Valley Medical Associates also assign physicians to walk-in urgent visit coverage on weekdays.
Dr. David Niedermeier at Steamboat Medical Group pointed out that physicians are on staff at his practice and noted continuity of care at the same medical group can be a positive.
The two urgent care centers in Steamboat combine to increase weekend medical coverage options for the community and to provide weekend breaks for many primary care offices.
UCHealth Urgent Care’s highly visible location along South Lincoln Avenue and the national trend of younger adults avoiding the cost of buying a full health care plan are likely leading more clients there, said Ryan Larson, director of operations at UCHealth YVMC.
Larson said UCHealth Urgent Care’s highest number of visitors are in the age range 20 to 29 followed by 30 to 39. He said that illustrates an active, young population in Routt County, significant numbers of tourist patients, and the trend of so-called “young invincibles,” or younger adults who decide to forgo health insurance.
UCHealth Urgent Care recorded 6,525 visits in the first year since its opening on May 25, 2021. About 39% of patients were from Routt County.
Reznicek said the local UCHealth Urgent Care ranked among the top three in patient experience out of the 20 Urgent Care centers in the UCHealth system based on patient responses to a text survey or automated phone call after a visit.
“Consistently, the comments we receive show that our patients most value our expanded access of being open 364 days per year and well into the evening hours, the high-quality care delivered by our very experienced clinical team and the compassion with which this care is provided,” said Homuth.
The new facility replaced a privately owned, free-standing emergency room that charged significantly higher rates than urgent care visits.
Reznicek reiterated that urgent care and primary care locations are far less expensive than an emergency room, noting that visiting an emergency department for a minor condition may cost about three to four times more than urgent care.
“We encourage patients to select the most appropriate level of care for their needs,” Reznicek said. “Emergency rooms are significantly more expensive because they are open 24/7, 365 and staffed with emergency-trained physicians and nurses, with constant availability of testing, imaging and additional services and specialists, always ready to treat medical emergencies.”
UCHealth Urgent Care accepts most major insurance plans as well as patients without insurance and can provide virtual urgent visits for a $49 flat fee or billed to insurance.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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