Hurt yourself? Can’t wait until Monday? Know it’s going to cost an arm and a leg, hopefully not literally, for a trip to the Emergency Room (ER)? Well, Valley View’s After Hours Urgent Care (AHUC) might be your answer. AHUC opened its doors to serve injuries that fall in the grey area between, “oh expletive, we need to go to the ER,” and a primary care visit.
Since the beginning of the year, AHUC staff have been mending injuries and curing minor illnesses at its location within Valley View Hospital. AHUC shares the main entry of the ER but, upon entering, one encounters signage and video monitors at the registration desk directing folks with less severe ailments to the AHUC. The operating hours are Monday through Thursday, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. Care is provided to anyone over six months old.
“Valley View’s AHUC will be able to treat patients faster and more affordably,” said Ben Peery, Medical Director of the After Hours Urgent Care and Emergency Services. Peery expressed that costs, which typically would be astronomical after a visit to the ER, will be significantly lower for patients.
Part of the reason ER bills climb so high is due solely to the fact that care was given in the ER. When someone visits the ER, they are provided a special degree of attention and resources regardless of the gravity of their injury. This is then reflected in the bill.
“For many years, patients have been coming in after hours [to the ER] to get care for minor fractures, lacerations and illnesses … so we recognized that there was a need,” Peery stated, “We can lower the cost because the level of care does not require an evaluation by an emergency team.”
At the same time, since the ER is just next door, if a patient comes in with a condition that does merit emergency care, they will still be in the right place. “There have been cases where patients come in and we say, ‘Wait hold on, you need to be seen by the emergency department.’”
Many of the patients they’ve seen so far do not have a primary care physician. The staff at AHUC encourage those patients to make a follow up appointment with one of the hospital’s primary care providers.
For patients who do not have insurance, “We feel very strongly that they’re benefiting,” said Peery, “and not having to be buried by a medical bill from an ER visit for a non-emergent condition.”
According to Peery they’re seeing more folks on the weekends and “during the weekdays, the bulk of our patients are seen between 5 [p.m.] and 8 p.m.” As the word gets out, more patients filter in.
“Almost every primary care office in this valley does have available time slots to see patients with urgent care concerns,” said Peery, “But obviously, as things go, sometimes patients can’t get in during those hours.” At AHUC, “families come in to be seen after hours, and we’re really trying to fill that gap,” he concluded.
“This was actually the brain child of our current CEO Brian Murphy, MD,” said Peery.
“This new service is the result of great collaboration across Valley View and with independent community providers,” Murphy elaborated, “… Their work and leadership are instrumental in creating this offering to better serve our community.”
Aspen Valley Hospital also offers After-Hours Medical Care at its Basalt location.