By CHRISTIAN WHITTLE
NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
As part of its efforts to increase convenient access to healthcare, Cottage Health is introducing Cottage Urgent Care centers for treatment of minor injuries and illnesses, with the first location set to open in Hollister Village in early summer this year.
Cottage Urgent Care has plans to open 10 centers in the tri-counties region.
“(Urgent Care) stretches all the way from Camarillo all the way up to San Luis Obispo with sites spread throughout,” said Dr. Ed Wroblewski, chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs for Cottage Health.
Centers will also open in Santa Maria, Ventura, and Buellton. All locations are leased, and Cottage is in the process of securing necessary permits for construction, after which they will open the centers on a rolling basis, Dr. Wroblewski told the News-Press.
The centers will be in storefront locations and will be open 365 days a year, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., to provide walk-in care for patients of all ages. Each site will be identical, right down to the drawer storage organization, to ensure that doctors and Cottage staff can easily move from one center to another as needed.
The conveniently located Cottage Urgent Care centers will fill an important need for communities to quickly access care during extended hours, preventing a minor issue from becoming a more serious health concern.
“These will be for what we call low acuity conditions such as earaches, sore-throats, bladder infections, minor lacerations, sprains, and even minor trauma to legs and arms and things like that,” said Dr. Wroblewski.
Urgent Care services will include X-ray, lab and medications. However, the centers are not for major or complex medical emergencies, but rather for simple issues that can be dealt with in a short amount of time.
“These are meant to be very efficiently run operations where patients come for low-acuity illnesses, they are treated very quickly, and in fact the goal is to have a patient come in and leave within 30 minutes,” said Dr. Wroblewski. “If there’s anything complex we’ll be sending them to either primary care physicians, or, for the more acute complex problems, even to emergency rooms.”
Each Cottage Urgent Care Center will be staffed by a licensed nurse practitioner and patient concierge team members dedicated to assisting patients during their visit and ensuring an efficient and comfortable care environment.
The Urgent Care centers are a part of Cottage’s strategic plan for what they can do for their communities with regards to access to primary care.
“There are patients that either have a hard time establishing care with a primary care physician or their primary care physicians are so busy getting an appointment may take days or weeks or even months,” said Dr. Wroblewski.
“This is supposed to really improve access to primary care for those cases which are very simple and can be taken out of the offices and emergency rooms and let them see the more appropriate patients for that setting.”
Cottage also recently launched Cottage CareNow virtual care service for online visits so patients can quickly receive care or an appropriate referral. Both CareNow and the Urgent Care centers can connect patients to local physicians for follow-up and preventive care to improve overall health.
“There will be cross talk between the virtual care platform and our Urgent Care platform, and as always we’ll really try to get these patients back to a primary care physician, or if they don’t have a primary care physician, we’ll try to establish that care,” said Dr. Wroblewski.
As opening day approaches, Cottage will roll out educational materials to help the public know when they should go to Urgent Care and when they need an emergency room. Cottage will also release updates and announcements via its website.