Express Care makes walk-in visits easy

U.P. Health System-Portage hospital photo Guy Pelligrini, a physician’s assistant with Express Care, examines a patient during a walk-in visit. Patients who come to Express Care are typically treated on a first-come, first-serve basis and can be treated for most of the same illnesses or injuries that an Emergency Room can at a fraction of the price

Suppose that you’ve been doing some lifting at work or in the garden and your back is giving you some trouble. Or perhaps you accidentally hooked yourself while fishing. It’s not serious enough to go to the emergency room, but you also can’t see it getting better on its own.

UP Health System – Portage, the same group that you work with when you see a urologist or go to the Emergency Room, has an Express Care location in Houghton where you can go with all of those concerns that are somewhere between an emergency and something you can walk off.

Express Care offers a number of different services on a walk-in basis. These services include managing allergies and infections, caring for minor cuts and burns, removing ticks and fishing hooks and treating eye, ear and throat problems. Express care can also do screenings for middle school and high school sports, provide vaccinations, and remove sutures or staples.

The staff at Express Care tries to take patients on a first-come first-served basis, but priority is sometimes given to worse cases. The staff also tries to make sure that all sessions last fifteen minutes or less, though more severe cases may last as long as half an hour. Cases too severe to be treated in this time are referred to the Emergency Department. Wait time varies on how busy the Express Care is at the time. Most services are covered by a flat rate of $55, though some services or tests cost more.

The initial assessment of the individual’s condition at Express Care is virtually identical to that process in the Emergency Department. The key difference is in the level of care available. In the Emergency Department after the initial treatment the patient is brought to the appropriate area of the hospital. At Express Care the patient is either treated or referred to the Emergency Department.

A highly trained staff runs Express Care, from the patient service representative at the front desk to the healthcare providers and medical assistants in the rooms.

“Everyone working in the back is either licensed or certified,” said Guy Pelligrini, a Physician’s Assistant who works at Express Care.

Pelligrini has been working in health care since 2003 when he began working as a paramedic after finishing his master’s degree at Michigan Technological University. While working as a paramedic, Pelligrini attended school to be a physician’s assistant and worked in the Emergency Room at Portage from 2010 to 2014. He spent a few years working in family medicine before starting at Express Care earlier this year. Family medicine is a branch of medicine that focuses on building long-term relationships with patients and providing all-around care rather than specializing in a particular area of health.

As a physician’s assistant, Pelligrini is able to order tests, conduct physical examinations, create a plan of care and prescribe medications. Some tests including tests for strep-throat and influenza as well as pregnancy tests can be carried out at the Express Care, though more complicated tests must be carried out at the UP Health System – Portage main campus. Express Care also has a direct line to the Emergency Department at Portage.

“At any point [individuals] can call Express Care and voice their problems and ask if we are able to take care of that… we can decide if that patient should come on down to express care,” said Pelligrini, “same with walk-in patients, they can just come in at any time and we will provide whatever advice and guidance as to whether or not we can take care of that situation and come up with a plan of care for them or whether they need to go to some other place that is a bit more equipped.”

Express Care is located at 921 W Sharon Avenue in Houghton and can be reached by phone at (906)483-1777. Regular hours are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week, though hours may vary on holidays. Visit www.portagehealth.org/expresscare for more information.

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