Express Care can help with simple services

Jon Jaehnig/For the Gazette Visitors to the UPHS Express Care locations can be treated for minor conditions more quickly and affordably than at the Emergency Department, or when they cannot get in to see their primary care provider.

When you think of UP Health System, you probably think of one of their main campuses like those in Hancock, Marquette, or Ishpeming. However, UPHS also operates several Express Care locations, including one in Houghton and a newer location in Calumet.

“We fill a void in the community. If people are not able to get in with their primary care provider, we’re open seven days a week,” said Bruce Anderson.

Anderson is a Nurse Practitioner who has been in Emergency Medicine since 2005. Before the opening of Express Care, he worked in the UPHS-Portage Emergency Department.

“We are the least expensive option in the community for simple healthcare services,” he said.

While there are a lot of conditions that patients should go straight to the emergency department for, the Express Care locations are great for those health conditions that are not emergencies but that you do not want to put off, either. Things like minor injuries, fevers, and ear aches are common examples, though they do not see patients for stomach pain.

Jon Jaehnig/For the Gazette While wait times vary, visitors to the Express Care locations usually spend less time waiting and less time with their provider for less serious symptoms and injuries.

“The highest percentage of what we see are mostly respiratory things,” said Anderson. “We do other small things too; fish hook removal, tick bites, suturing — stitches.”

The Calumet location also offers splinting and X-ray technology. While most people think of X-ray for things like broken bones, it is also very useful for diagnosing respiratory conditions.

“If anyone has an order for an X-ray or a lab and it’s difficult for them to get in during regular business hours, they can go to the Calumet Express Care – which is open on the weekend – and it won’t count as an Express Care visit,” said Angela Luskin.

Luskin has been at Portage since 2004 and is the Health and Fitness Manager for both Express Care locations. As such, she manages the day-to-day operations.

When patients arrive at either Express Care location, they are served in a first-come-first-served basis. They are greeted by a patient services representative who registers them and collects insurance and demographic information. While insurance is not required for Express Care visits, Express Care services are often covered by insurance plans.

A clinical specialist then brings them to a room and takes their vitals before they are seen by the Nurse Practitioner or Physicians Assistant on staff. The NP or PA will then make the diagnosis, help the patient, write any necessary prescription, and sometimes recommend a follow-up visit with the patient’s primary care provider.

“Typically, the flow is pretty streamlined,” said Anderson.

“If someone has a drive and they want to know the wait time, they’re welcome to give us a call,” said Luskin.

Patients are also encouraged to call ahead if they do not know whether their case is one for the Express Care.

“We can usually give an answer over the phone, though there are a couple of things that we handle on a case-by-case basis,” said Anderson. “If they come with something that can’t be seen here, they do not get billed.”

Calling ahead is also a safer gauge of wait time than driving by the Houghton Express Care as the Houghton Express Care building also houses a fitness center.

“We have a shared location with a fitness center open to the public,” said Luskin. “We’re in a great location for both of the service lines.”

The Houghton Express Care is located at 921 W. Sharon Ave. They are open seven days each week and begin seeing patients at 9 a.m. seeing the last patient of the day at 6:45 p.m. For more information, call (906) 483-1777.

The Calumet Express Care is located at 56720 Calumet Avenue. They are open Saturday through Monday and see their first patient at 8 a.m., seeing the last patient of the day at 7:45 p.m. For more information, call (906) 481-8952. To learn more about both Express Care locations, visit PortageHealth.org/ExpressCare.

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