Extended Clinic Becoming 'Emergency Room Lite'
Posted on Monday, December 29th, 2008
Seeing a medical practitioner after hours in the local emergency room will no longer be available as an “extended clinic” visit. As of January 1, Medicare regulators say, all care rendered in the emergency room must be regarded as emergency care.
But the emergency room of Mercy Health/Love County Hospital is adjusting its fees to keep rates for “non-emergency patients” comparable to what they were under the extended clinic.
“We have dropped the “extended clinic” name for services rendered in the ER for routine care, but we have made no change in the net benefit to patients. A child with an earache in the middle of the night or an adult needing care can still come to the emergency room 24 hours a day. They will receive the same high-quality care for comparable pricing,” said Richard Barker, administrator and CEO.
Barker said restrictions on commingling clinic and emergency services led to the reclassification.
Overflow from the clinic to the emergency room during the day had accounted for a substantial portion of the “extended clinic” visits in the past.
Barker also announced that a new physician’s assistant will join the clinic in January. “We will be able to see more patients in the clinic.”