Roark Family Health to offer first urgent care service

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Doctor: 'There is no urgent care; we need an urgent care'

Illnesses and injuries are no doubt an urgent matter when they occur, no matter what time of day it is, but in Cassville, there is currently no facility that offers urgent care medical services outside of normal business hours other than the hospital's emergency room, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

However, Roark Family Health is closing that gap in medical care by providing an urgent care service to its clinic members and area residents beginning. The service, which began on Friday, will initially be offered from noon to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, and after additional staff is hired, service hours will be expanded.

Dr. Lisa Roark, M.D. and clinic owner, said numerous calls prompted her to offer an urgent care service outside of normal business hours to address common illnesses and injuries that do not always necessitate emergency care.

"We need an urgent care," Roark said. "We need one now, and it needs to be after hours. I was getting constant calls asking, 'Can you get me in for a sore throat?' And, people were having to go to the ER because they either didn't have a doctor or couldn't get in to see theirs. Most of the time, people can't get back to work until they get a doctor's note."

Roark suspected some of the calls were stemming from the fact that Heritage Medical Clinic in Cassville, which is a walk-in clinic, is closed on Fridays.

Staff from Heritage declined to comment, but confirmed the clinic sees patients on a walk-in basis from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and is closed Fridays.

Staff also confirmed that new patients must first establish themselves to be seen, and during busy times, such as the flu season, established patients are typically given priority, so there may be times when new patients could be turned away.

Access Family Care of Cassville, another local medical clinic, sees patients by appointment. A new or current patient is welcome to walk-in and wait, but there is no guarantee they will be seen, staff said.

Roark Family Health, by comparison, is not a walk-in clinic. It is member-based, but Roark saw a need in the community.

"We don't [traditionally] do walk-ins and urgent care, but we kept hearing, 'I can't get in to see my doctor,'" Roark said.

The new urgent care service will be a free resource for members, but is open to the public for a fee and will address typical illnesses and injuries such as colds, coughs, bumps, bruises, ear infections, sore throats, sprains, rashes, skin infections, UTIs, lacerations and stitches, sports physicals and DOT physicals, flu, bladder infections, lacerations and stitches.

"It's just for acute illness type things, not for managing chronic medical conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, hypertension, chronic pain, etc.," Roark said. "Those patients still need to go to their primary doctor."

They will also not treat emergencies such as chest pain, possible stroke, head injuries, and uncontrollable bleeding.

No appointment is required for the service, Roark said.

"It will be walk-ins, so patients won't have to make appointments," she said.

Cost for nonmembers is $75, and if a procedure is needed, there will be an additional $25 charge.

"If you compare that to going to the ER, it would be expensive," Roark said. "I'm keeping the procedure charge at a flat rate so there's no surprises."

Additionally, Roark will continue to provide labs at-cost, as she does for members, so most lab work to test for common illnesses, such as strep throat, bladder infections or the flu will range from approximately $1-$3.

"That keeps it affordable," she said.

Roark said she will not bill insurance for the service, but if patients have insurance, she will provide documentation of the visit so they can file it with their insurance company.

"If they have coverage, we'll print them a receipt and they can send it to insurance themselves."

Roark hopes that in a few months, she will have additional staff hired and expand urgent care hours at that time.

"I'm working hard to get a physicians assistant to help me, hopefully by January," Roark said. "Once I get someone to help, I would like to add Saturdays."

Roark suspects one of the reasons Cassville does not offer an urgent care service is because of the hours involved.

"I think part of the problem is no one wants to work after hours, and I get that, but the more I work with my patients, the more I see that it's something we need," she said.

In any case, Roark is not waiting any longer, and is responding to the need.

"We need it now," she said. "We're going into fall with flu season and strep, and we need it now. [The patients have] been telling me what the need is. I just have to listen."

For more information about Roark Family Health, people may call 417-847-1111, or visit the clinic, which is located at 1101 N. Main Street in Cassville.

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