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Monday, April 1, 2013

Lake Wedowee Area welcomes two new medical facilities

News to Know
Story by Kelly Caldwell

 

The medical landscape of Randolph County is undergoing drastic changes with construction of two new facilities.
 The Tanner Health System and Regional Medical Center are both building new facilities in the county which will provide needed services for the area as well as alleviate some of the congestion of the emergency room of Wedowee Hospital.

Tanner/East Alabama is opening a primary care facility in Wedowee while Regional Medical Center is opening an urgent care facility in Roanoke.

When you have a life-threatening situation, such as chest pain, or a sudden and severe pain, the emergency room is the only option.  If you went to an urgent care clinic, they'd just send you on to the ER in an ambulance.  But if your condition is less serious, but still requires immediate attention, choosing an urgent care facility can save you loads of time and money, as well as keeping the emergency room free to handle more serious situations. 
"We are so excited to get in the new building," Ricky Daniel, a nurse practitioner for the Wedowee Clinic, said. "I have toured the building twice and I know this sounds crazy but I kind of felt like Dorothy going from the black and white of Kansas to the full color of Oz. It is so nice to have something new that we can all be proud to call ours."

Tanner/East Alabama is a multiphase project beginning with a two-story medical office building that will house Tanner Primary Care of Wedowee, currently known as the Wedowee Clinic.

"When finished, this will be a state of the art facility," Bill Hines, executive director  of Tanner Medical Group, said. "There is 8,000 square feet dedicated to family practice, urgent care and occupational health."
The clinic will begin seeing patients at the new facility on May 6, however, on May 4th Tanner/East Alabama will open its doors with a community wide open house.

"We are excited about the things we will have in Wedowee on May 4," Kelly H. Meigs, director of Marketing and Public Relations for Tanner Health System, said. "We will have the digital mammography truck and our air evac helicopter there. As well people in the community will have the opportunity to meet our physicians and tour the facility."

In the beginning, the hours of the new facility will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday.

"We are planning on having additional hours," Hines said. "We are doing a Southeastern United States search for additional physicians to accommodate our needs. And then we hope to extend our hours to accommodate the community's needs."

The second floor of the facility will not be completed by the grand opening on May 4th, but eventually it will offer more specialty services.

"We have had some interest from providers in the Randolph County area and the Carroll County area that specialize in urology, orthopedics, cardiology, general surgery and ENT," Hines said. "We think the patient population is going to give us the opportunity to provide a high level of service to the area."

Tanner/East Alabama is located south of Wedowee at 1030 Main Street South (U.S. Highway 431).
Regional Medical Center bought the Roanoke Rural Healthcare Clinic a few years ago but construction began in late 2012 on a new facility in northern part of town on U.S. Highway 431.

"A couple of decades ago we changed our name to Regional Medical Center but in more recent history that regional mindset went dormant," James Lipscomb, Regional Medical Center's vice president of practice development, said. "A couple of years ago, we had a strategic planning meeting where we decided if we were going to be 'Regional Medical Center' then we needed to embrace it."

Regional Medical  Center began acquiring clinics and physicans private practices soon after the meeting with Roanoke Rural Healthcare being the first.
"Before Randolph County Medical Center closed, they reached out to the hospitals they had relationships with (East Alabama Medical Center, Tanner Health System and Regional Medical Center)," Lipscomb said. "We got called in really late in the game, but they had the clinic that was viable. We acquired the assets of the clinic and pretty quickly after that we acquired Dr. Russell Petersons practice and in the last year we acquired Dr. Mel Holmes practice."

Since Randolph County Medical Center closed its doors in March of 2011, Regional Medical Center has acquired clinics in Roanoke, Talladega, Alexandria and Jacksonville.

"We are trying to develop clinics in Piedmont and Ashland as well," Lipscomb said.

Roanoke's urgent care facility is slated to open this summer with extended hours compared to current clinic's operation.

"We will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday," Lipscomb said. "Then 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.


"That's what we will start with, but if there is more demand there will be added hours," he said. "We feel this will accommodate most of our patients."

Regional Medical Center plans to relocate the staff of the rural healthcare clinic to the new facility as well as Dr. Holmes practice.

"We are also in the process of recruiting a new physician to the area as well," Lipscomb said.
" We are bringing to Roanoke the possibility of having seven day a week access to medical care on a urgent basis," he said. "We will take some appointments in the same clinic but we are looking to be open 7 days a week and offering a more advanced level of diagnostic capabilities. We will have a cat scan and be able to do ultra sound. We will have fairly complex lab arrangement. People will be able to get same day results and in some cases same hour results. A lot of routine lab work that currently takes a while to get back."
The Urgent Care facility is slated to open this summer in Roanoke.



What’s the Difference?




When you have a life-threatening situation, such as chest pain, or a sudden and severe pain, the emergency department of the nearest hospital is the only option.  If you went to an urgent care clinic, they'd just send you on to the ER in an ambulance.  But if your condition is less serious, but still requires immediate attention, choosing an urgent care facility can save you loads of time and money, as well as keeping the emergency room free to handle more serious situations. 
If you have a sprained ankle, or an ear infection, you may end up waiting for many hours in the emergency room and paying hundreds of dollars.  Most urgent care centers are open for extended hours, and will be able to accomodate you more quickly.
When you need to go to the Emergency Room:
If you have a serious condition - stroke, heart attack, severe bleeding, head injury or other major trauma - go straight to the nearest ER. Don't take a chance with anything life-threatening. The ER is the best place for these and other critical conditions, including:
Chest pain
Difficulty breathing
Severe bleeding or head trauma
Loss of consciousness
Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision
When an Urgent Care Center can better meet your needs:
Minor burns or injuries
Sprains and strains
Coughs, colds, and sore throats
Ear infections
Allergic reactions (non life-threatening)
Fever or flu-like symptoms
Rash or other skin irritations
Mild asthma
Animal bites
Broken Bones
And when in doubt, call ahead.  If the urgent care clinic in question can't accomodate your condition, they will advise you to go the nearest emergency facility.
Remember, urgent care clinics are also a resource for flu shots,  and physicals for sports or school.
From the National Association of Ambulatory Care at www.urgentcare.org

 

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