WILLISTON, N.D. – Mercy Medical Center has closed its walk-in clinic, in part due to a lack of staffing.
Trina Bressler, vice president of outpatient and clinic services, said it was becoming difficult to recruit enough staff for the Express Care Clinic, which was closed last Saturday.
Officials also decided to close the clinic because it wasn’t accommodating patients who needed care in the evenings, Bressler said.
Although the clinic aimed to serve patients after regular business hours, so many patients arrived during the afternoons they would fill up the evening appointments.
“There’d be patients waiting for us to open,” Bressler said.
An average of 90 patients a week used the clinic.
Mercy is developing a new model for its emergency department that will help serve those patients, but Bressler said officials aren’t ready to announce those details.
In the meantime, patients with emergent needs will be referred to the emergency room and others will be referred to the traditional clinic.
The emergency room is staffed by one physician, but Mercy has added two nurse practitioners in the ER to help meet the demand, Bressler said. A typical wait time in the ER ranges from 45 minutes to several hours, said Leslie Sullivan, marketing and communications manager.
Mercy recently added an occupational health physician who will be able to accommodate some of the patients who formerly used the Express Care Clinic, Bressler said. Mercy also is recruiting doctors for the traditional clinic.
Mercy CEO Matt Grimshaw said in a recent interview that it may take weeks for someone who is not an established patient to get an appointment at the clinic, and that open slots for the clinic are often filled by 10 a.m. each day.
Fairlight Medical Center, which has operated a walk-in clinic in Williston since 2007, has seen steady growth in patient numbers and often operated near or at capacity before Mercy closed its clinic, said Dr. Leszek Jaszczak, the clinic’s owner.
“As with other clinics, adequate staffing is very challenging and we continue to recruit qualified staff,” Jaszczak said.
In a separate announcement Thursday, Mercy representatives said three registered nurses have been hired to launch a nurse triage program.
The nurses will take calls during business hours and use their expertise, the patient’s medical history and doctor consultations to assist the patient, said Melanie Krabseth, nurse manager. In cases of acute need, the nurses may be able to get a patient in to see a doctor that same day.
“We’re getting such an influx of people in this town, so we wanted to have better access for our patients,” Krabseth said.