Hospital officials, urgent care professionals and contractors gathered for a small ceremony Thursday at the urgent care facility to mark the occasion.
Officials said the expansion of the facility is going to allow Clinton Urgent Care to provide quicker, more efficient patient treatment for both urgent care and occupational medicine patients. When the expansion is complete, those patients will be seen through separate waiting areas.
Doing so will separate the sick patients from the well, while helping officials improve service to clients at occupational medicine, now known as WorkSafe.
“This will allow us to grow that,” said Matthew Byars, director of practice management for SRMC. “This is going to allow us to better serve our occupational medicine clients.”
The occupational medicine program has been offered at Clinton Urgent Care for the last decade, with pre-employment physicals, drug screenings, worker’s compensation management and other checkups being conducted for employers through the small facility on Beaman Street.
With a new name and more space dedicated to it, that service looks to be greatly improved. The expansion at the urgent care facility will begin Monday and take 120 days. The target completion date is the end of May.
“Hopefully, weather-permitting, it will be done by Memorial Day,” said David Masterson, chief executive officer of Sampson Regional Medical Center.
There are 12,000 patients seen each year at the Clinton Urgent Care facility alone, and about 3,500 are work-related or referrals, Masterson noted.
Much of what is already there at Clinton Urgent Care will remain untouched, other than the far end of the parking lot where a handful of spaces will give way to 650 additional square feet of structure that will house WorkSafe. The existing entrance and the drive-through will remain intact, to be used solely for urgent care patients.
An additional entrance will be placed near the center of the building to accommodate WorkSafe patients. They will exit through a separate, third door at the far end, near where the addition is being constructed. While under the same roof, the expansion will split the two entities up so that at no point will WorkSafe patients come into contact with those utilizing urgent care.
“The advantage will be for both sides,” said Masterson. “Those on the clock will not be held up and the sick will not have delays. We don’t want those (occ med) patients waiting behind those that are first come, first serve on the sick side. This will get them out in a quicker fashion and be a lot more efficient.”
The East Group architectural firm did the design and Blizzard Construction will be doing the work. The construction project went to bid, and Masterson said he was happy with the award — Blizzard previously worked with Sampson Regional in developing its Fast Track.
“It went very smoothly,” Masterson said. “It’s a big reason he’s here today.”
Masterson drew parallels between the impending revamp of Clinton Urgent Care and what it will be able to accomplish for the WorkSafe program to what the Fast Track has been able to do for emergency care within the hospital’s main facility. Providing and prioritizing care through two dedicated channels will allow everyone coming to the urgent care facility to be seen in a timely manner, as it has with the Fast Track and the Emergency Room, Masterson noted.
Linda McLamb, who has managed Clinton Urgent Care and coordinates the occupational medicine program, said the addition to the existing building will decrease wait times for employees and new and seasonal hires, who have traditionally waited with other walk-ins. Previously, everyone coming into the Clinton Urgent Care facility — whether occupation-related or regarding urgent care — waited together and everything has been done on a walk-in basis.
That will no longer be the case.
“We want to make our building more accessible, so well workers don’t have to be mixed with sick urgent care patients.”
The groundbreaking also coincided with the first anniversary of Clinton Urgent Care’s affiliation with Sampson Regional.
“Overall, things have gone well,” said Masterson. “We’ve been anticipating this project for the last year. We’re excited to be breaking ground today.”
Dr. Ron Krull, medical director for Clinton Urgent Care and medical resource officer for WorkSafe, sang the praises of the work done since the hospital’s acquisition of the clinic one year ago. The revamp was a tangible construction initiative, but was just the latest in a string of investments made by the hospital that has also included new radiology equipment, revamped medical records-keeping and interfacing capabilities that allow urgent care to better communicate with other clinics.
“With the purchase of the clinic by the hospital, there has been a lot of support there,” said Krull. “Overall, this venture has been a benefit to the community. This is going to be a final piece of the puzzle, the physical structure we needed to expand. I think this was probably the number one thing the community asked for and today we’re going to provide that to them.”
WorkSafe is still very much a work in progress, with McLamb and others working to make local companies aware of the service with brochures and others educational materials.
“We want to make some local companies aware,” said Byars. “We know with building that program we want to meet their needs here.”
Having a local facility to handle occupational medicine patients will also help those companies conduct necessary evaluations for employees who are on the clock, rather than sending them out of town for drug screenings and pre-employment physicals.
Masterson noted the N.C. Department of Transportation, county government, school systems, Murphy Brown, Smithfield Foods and Hog Slat among those that already utilize the WorkSafe occupational medicine program.
“This is another positive step toward our goal for quality care at home,” said SRMC Board of Trustees chairman Allie Ray McCullen. “I think what we’re doing here today will make this facility more user-friendly.”
“This is a physical structure that will allow use to grow that program,” said Masterson. “It’s an opportunity to grow, and we’re going to do that.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 121, or by email at email@example.com.