The faculty of the Department of Family & Community Medicine in the University of Maryland School of Medicine has created a new immediate care clinic that will give faculty, staff, and students on the University and hospital campus a more convenient way to access non-emergency health care services. UMaryland Immediate Care opened at 408 W. Lombard St., a space just around the corner from the Family & Community Medicine offices at 29 S. Paca St.
The clinic will be open five days a week, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., for faculty, staff, and students of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, the University of Maryland Medical System and University Physicians Inc.
Immediate Care has a twofold mission. One of its goals is to provide campus employees and students with quick, convenient care with short waiting times. At the same time, the clinic aims to keep referrals for employee health among School of Medicine faculty rather than sending them to outside specialists.
"Increasingly, patients are looking to convenient care clinics to fulfill their everyday health needs," says Kevin Ferentz, MD, associate professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine.
"A walk-in clinic near a patient's workplace can be more convenient for busy schedules than an appointment with a primary care provider. We want to make non-emergency, non-chronic care more convenient for those of us on campus. We also hope the clinic will help keep campus employees, students and faculty within the University of Maryland family for their specialty care. It's a solution that benefits all of us," says Ferentz, who will serve as medical director of the new initiative.
The clinic is intended to treat non-emergency and non-chronic issues: headaches, fevers, colds, ear infections, nausea, heart palpitations. If a problem requires specialty care, the doctors and nurse practitioner will refer patients to specialists at the School of Medicine. For chronic conditions, patients will be sent to their primary care physician for ongoing care.
Students, however, will be able to receive primary care at the clinic--the Department of Family & Community Medicine already provides those services to students and will do so at the new clinic as well.
The specialists on campus have agreed with the Department of Family & Community Medicine that patients referred by the new clinic will get top priority for appointments. That means patients the clinic refers will have much shorter waits for scheduling appointments with specialists on campus, rather than the weeks or even months they might have to wait for outside doctors.
Bill Elliott, chief operating officer at University Physicians Inc. (UPI), says, "We've made a commitment here at UPI to get appointments with specialists scheduled in an accelerated time frame to keep people here on campus for their medical care."
Getting appointments with specialists quickly "is a real value-added service," says Kathy Maddock, senior administrator of the Department of Family & Community Medicine. "We'll also be implementing electronic medical records for students, faculty, and staff to connect their care between the clinic, their specialists, and the hospital. We've designed the clinic as a portal for their care."
The Department of Family & Community Medicine already operates a similar clinic on Paca Street, which is open to the public. The new clinic will streamline the flow of employees and students and hopefully shorten their wait for care. The new facility, with eight exam rooms, will open at 7 a.m. with patients' work schedules in mind.
"We've set the hours so that people can be seen before they come into work," says Maddock. "We're going to try to get them in and out as quickly as possible so they do not have to wait."
The clinic is physically connected to the Department of Family & Community Medicine's Paca Street offices, so doctors will be able to move smoothly between the two facilities.
"We hope that by making it more convenient for people to seek care, we'll be able to take care of small health issues and refer patients to specialists before these little things become larger health issues," says Elliott. "This will be good for all of us."