Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
An urgent care clinic is planned for the former Blockbuster Video building at the corner of North Main and Park streets in Rutland.
The former Blockbuster Video building at the corner of South Main and Park streets in Rutland could soon hold an urgent care clinic.
“We’ve acquired the building and are in the permitting process right now,” Dr. Marcus Hampers said.
Hampers said he hopes to open in the summer. His company, ClearChoiceMD, is opening clinics in Barre and St. Albans in June and is also looking at locations in Brattleboro and Burlington.
Urgent care, Hampers explained, is the treatment of episodic, non-life-threatening illness and injury. He said it is not a substitute for primary care, but that 40 percent of the people treated in emergency rooms could be safely treated in an urgent care clinic. He also said urgent care clinics cost one-tenth what emergency rooms do.
“Emergency departments have become overburdened with patients who have non-emergencies,” Hampers said. “The emergency departments get plugged up, the hospital gets plugged up.”
While such clinics tend to average 5,500 patients in their first year nationally, Hampers said Rutland is under-served and could do more. He said they intend to have patients in and out in less than an hour.
“Our staffing model will always have a physician on-site,” he said. “As our volume increases, we’ll add on a midlevel practitioner. We’ll have two medical assistants, a licensed nurse practitioner and a radiology technician. We’ll be able to do X-rays. We’ll be able to do labs. We’ll be able to manage broken bones, do IV saline, give some antibiotics through IV.”
The clinic will have the 25 most commonly prescribed medications on hand.
“If you come in with bronchitis, you could go home with your full course of Z-pack,” he said.
A 20-year veteran of the emergency department at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., and a faculty member at Dartmouth College’s medical school, Hampers said he is concerned about the predicted shortage of primary care doctors over the next decade.
“This problem is not going away and I decided to be part of the solution,” he said.
Hampers repeated that clinics like his do not replace primary care, but said they can ease the burden on primary care doctors.
Anna White, human resources director at Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region, said her organization did not feel particularly burdened.
“It may help alleviate some of the needs in the emergency department in the hospital,” she said. “Aside from the fact that there’s a challenge that there’s a shortage of primary care providers — that’s a burden the health care system suffers together — aside from that, we are able to serve the population that needs us.”
Inquiries to Rutland Regional Medical Center did not receive an immediate response.
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