You shouldn't go to the emergency room if you don't have a real emergency. That's the word from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.
They've got a new policy that should save time and money for many patients. Starting today, people who show up to the Emergency Center with a minor health problem, will be directed someplace else.
Our camera crew walked up to Phoebe's new Community Care Center just as Gloria Jean Clyde was walking in, having just left Phoebe's Emergency Center.
"It's no big deal 'cause they are trying to help me out," said Gloria Jean Clyde. No big deal, says Clyde, about the brief walk to the Community Care Center from the EC, where she first sought treatment for a hurt leg.
"They said we are going to have a good look at you and then we are going to send you across the street and we will call and have someone take care of you, they are going to take care of everything with your leg."
"In the clinic they will be seen quicker, and it will not be as expensive," said Phoebe's Laura Schearer.
The most expensive place to receive care is in an EC, and the wait for people with minor health problems can be many hours long, as folks with serious problems go first.
"Phoebe is never going to turn anyone away that has an emergency medical condition," said Schearer.
Now, folks who walk into Phoebe's EC will be accessed by a medical professional, and if, like in the case of Ms. Clyde, don't have a true emergency, will get help finding care.
"We wanted to go a step further and make sure if we were not going to treat those patients in the EC because they don't have a true emergency we wanted an access point for them to be treated," said Schearer.
For Ms. Clyde, her access point for health care is roughly 100 feet from the EC's back door to the Community Care Clinic. "No, I don't mind this little walk because they doing all they can to help me with my bad leg."
Phoebe's Community Care Clinic, located across the street from the EC, opened March 1st and sees patients all day.