A report out Thursday shows emergency room visits nationwide are at an all-time high.
That has hospitals taking action to ease the strain. In Topeka, Stormont-Vail HealthCare is expanding its emergency room. It's also opening ExpressCare clinics, to give people another option evenings and weekends.
17-year old Jon Osborne found out how valuable they can be when a gardening accident changed his summer plans.
His mom, Suzanne, says a roto tiller ran into the back of his foot and took off his tennis shoe. Her youngest son ran to the house to tell her what had happened, and she came out to find Jon lying face down on the ground, a neighbor trying to stop the bleeding. Jon says it hurt pretty bad, as a big chunk of skin laid open over the back of his foot.
Just two weeks earlier, Suzanne had seen a sign at the Cotton-O'Neil Clinic at SW 29th and Croco Road. Their doctor's office was now home to an ExpressCare Clinic. Since it was open after five and closer to home, that's where she rushed Jon.
Dr. Jay Kennedy says the goal of the clinics is to relieve the emergency rooms of congestion. He says ExpressCare can handle cuts like Jon's and most simple broken bones along with other illnesses. He says a lot of minor things people think are serious enough to go to the emergency room, they'd be better off coming to a clinic like ExpressCare, where they'll be seen and out in about a half an hour.
A bonus for Cotton-O'Neil patients who go to ExpressCare is that records can be electronically sent right to the doctor. People who think they're having a stroke or heart attack or who've suffered a major trauma like a shooting or stabbing should still go the ER. Plus, Dr. Kennedy says it's still important to have the continuity of care a regular family doctor can provide.
The 29th and Croco location is Cotton-O'Neil's second ExpressCare. The first opened at 29th and Urish earlier this year. A third location is set to open in North Topeka later this summer. The clinics are open 1 to 8 pm Monday thru Friday and 11 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday. The clinics charge a $30 co-pay upfront and patients are billed for the rest, although some co-pays may be more or less based on insurance coverage.