By Debra Smith HBJ Freelance Writer
EVERETT — A new urgent care clinic hopes to attract patients in one of the most competitive health care markets in the state by serving up a medical diagnosis like a to-go latte.
Doctors Express, 607 SE Everett Mall Way, bills itself as a faster, cheaper and hipper alternative to hospital emergency rooms. It opened its doors Sept. 15.
The decor is sleek and modern, with a flat-screen TV and an Apple iPad to entertain patients in the waiting room. No appointment is necessary. The clinic is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.
“People want health care like they want their coffee,” said Jeromy Sjolseth, director of operations at the Everett Doctors Express. “They want it thrown at them through the drive-through — quick and efficient. They also don’t want to sacrifice quality.”
The amenities and expanded hours are meant to appeal to harried parents who can’t squeeze an appointment in during office hours and to people who don’t want to wait for an appointment with their regular doctor, Sjolseth said.
Doctors Express has a doctor or physician’s assistant on staff who can treat most common injuries and illnesses. Clinic staff also can dispense medication. The clinic offers X-rays and simple blood, urine and drug tests.
The clinic doesn’t handle anything that would require an overnight stay in a hospital. If someone with more acute injuries walks in — say, a stab wound — the staff will call 911.
The goal is to get patients in and out of the clinic in 45 minutes, Sjolseth said. An urgent care clinic is often cheaper than a visit to the emergency room. An on-site visit is $99 plus the cost of any treatments or medications.
In the first days the clinic has been open, Everett Doctors Express physician Dr. Dat Nguyen has seen a number of patients who either don’t have a primary care physician or can’t easily get an appointment with one.
“We’re getting a lot of patients after hours,” he said.
Nguyen has worked as a physician for 43 years, including other walk-in clinics.
Other local urgent care clinics, such as The Everett Clinic, might offer an advantage in that their offices are an extension of their primary care services, Nguyen said. That makes it more likely a patient’s primary care physician will get information about the urgent care visit. That’s important, he said.
Sjolseth said clinic staff will send a report after a visit to a primary physician if the patient has one.
Doctors Express accepts most insurance, including Medicare. Cash payers get a discount. The clinic is part of a national franchise with two other locations in Seattle and one in Kent. The company plans to open another clinic in Lynnwood by the end of the year.
Doctors Express faces stiff competition from other area health care organizations.
The Everett Clinic operates eight walk-in clinics in the county and publishes its wait times on its website, www.everettclinic.com.
Swedish Health Services opened a new stand-alone emergency room in 2011, near 128th Street SW and I-5 in Everett. Providence Regional Medical Center Everett offers a new 67,000-square-foot emergency department on its ground floor. Providence Medical Group also offers urgent care clinics in Mukilteo, Mill Creek and Monroe.
“The advantage of using a Providence urgent care clinic is the urgent care clinic, the primary care clinic, the emergency room and hospital are all linked through the same electronic medical record system,” said Providence spokeswoman Cheri Russum. “So, follow-up care is accessible to your primary care doctor, no matter where the point of care is in the entire Providence system.”
Also, if it does turn out to be something more serious, the emergency department has direct access to more advanced technology and specialists, she said.
The Washington State Hospital Association offers a free publication online that provides guidelines on whether an emergency room or urgent care clinic visit is best. It’s available at www.wsha.org/downloadpublications.cfm.