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New Ulm Medical Center

NUMC clinic adding staff, extending hours to meet patients' needs

When you are sick and running late for work, the last thing you want to hear is that your doctor has no appointments available that day. If your child has allergies or an infection, timely access to care is important. Non-emergency medical issues can also arise in the evening or on the weekend outside of normal business hours.

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Kara Jorve, MD

With these concerns in mind, the New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) Clinic has instituted some big changes to improve access to care at the clinic and better serve the needs of the community.

"Over the past two to three years, we have been getting comments from patients, our front staff and our physicians that we lacked access for same-day appointments. Our clinic would fill up by ten o'clock in the morning," said Jeffrey Messenger, NUMC director of clinic operations. "Future appointments, which usually involve well physicals and visits for chronic illnesses, were also being scheduled too far in advance."

Recruiting new physicians

A few years ago, Messenger pointed out, about 25 doctors were available to treat 305 patients who would visit the clinic on any given weekday. Today, the clinic has 32 physicians to accommodate closer to 400 patients each day.

"We heard from our patients that we weren't meeting their expectations," said Messenger. "So over the past year and a half we recruited seven new primary care providers, including family medicine and internal medicine physicians.”

"We also added three more nurse practitioners to help improve our same-day care as well as chronic disease management," said Dr. Kara Jorve, M.D., one of the clinic's family medicine physicians and president of the Physician’s Group of New Ulm.

With a new hospitalist program in place, physicians working in the clinic are also not called away to see patients in the hospital.

Extending clinic hours

Evening and weekend clinic hours have also been recently added. Patients can walk in to see a doctor from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Saturday, patients can also walk in from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

During these extended clinic hours, two doctors and a midlevel provider are available to treat those who weren't able to come in for an appointment during normal business hours, but need to be seen for non-emergency medical issues, such as colds, sinus infections, sprains, rashes, minor burns and allergies.

"We wanted to see evening clinic for some time. It's for the convenience of patients who have minor illnesses who aren't able to come in during the day, or for parents with a child who has been sick or missed daycare," said Dr. Jorve. "Instead of having to visit the emergency room and pay an ER fee, they can come to the clinic and have the convenience of not having to take time off or work."

A visit to the Saturday Walk-in Clinic or the Evening Walk-in Clinic is billed as a regular clinic visit so patients are not forced to pay for a trip to the emergency room.

Monitoring access to care

Since these changes, Messenger said, access to care at the clinic has already begun to improve. "We've seen wonderful results. More patients are seen at the clinic each day and same-day appointments are also available," he reported. "It's critical for us to meet our patients' expectations, and it's a huge benefit for our patients who do not have to go elsewhere to receive the care they need."

"We are always looking ahead and always reviewing what we need to be doing to ensure we are meeting the needs of the community," added Dr. Jorve.

To make an appointment at the New Ulm Medical Center Clinic, call 507-217-5011.