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Memorial Hospital Walk-In Clinic Merging With Emergency Department as of January 3, 2022

December 12, 2021

Contact: Tim Kershner, Director of Communications and Public Affairs
603-356-5461 ext. 2198
TKershner@memorialhospitalnh.org

NORTH CONWAY, NH – On January 3, the Memorial Hospital walk-in clinic, currently located next to the emergency department (ED), will become part of the hospital’s ED.

“When people need medical care now, the Memorial emergency department is ready to help,” says Memorial Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matt Dunn. “But when the need is not as urgent for our patients, a visit to the primary care office is often a better choice for the patient and relieves some volume from the emergency department.”

Examples of these less urgent needs, Dunn says, are rashes, sore throat, ear ache or a urinary tract infection. “The patient can call the primary care office and receive guidance as to whether a same-day appointment is appropriate or if they should go to the emergency department.”

Memorial Hospital primary care patients now have access to more same-day primary care appointments for health needs that could have meant a visit to the hospital’s ED or walk-in clinic. The extra capacity at the hospital’s Mount Washington Valley Rural Health primary care practice are the result of the addition of several providers as well as appointment scheduling enhancements. The extra appointment slots are available during regular primary care office hours and are designed for Memorial primary care patients who would have otherwise presented to the ED or walk-in clinic for care. After hours, patients should still present to the ED.

"Moving some of the same-day patient visits from the ED to primary care will also help with patient flow in the ED," says Memorial’s ED Director Dr. Joseph Williams. "The hospital has experienced a rise in the acuity and complexity of patients presenting to our ED, leading to discussion of how best to use ED space, team members and resources."

Two treatment areas, previously assigned for less urgent or walk-in patients will now be assigned to emergency patients.

“This change allows us to focus more attention on the most urgent patients, decrease wait times, improve capacity and help us better serve emergency patients,” adds Williams.

Dunn and Williams note that if care is needed immediately, patients should seek care in the ED. Non-Memorial patients must still present to the ED for urgent and non-urgent health needs whenever their primary care provider is not available.

According to Dunn, Memorial has added primary care providers to meet increased demand and adjusted their scheduling system to make more appointments, including same-day appointments, possible for patients. “We’ve seen an overall increase in new patients and patient visits in our practice, especially in pediatrics.” He says the hospital recently welcomed two pediatricians to the staff.

In terms of patient billing, a primary care visit often costs less than an emergency visit, especially when Memorial is an out-of-network hospital for the patient’s insurance carrier. For Memorial primary care patients, there is also the added convenience of having a scheduled time to see a clinician. “Depending on the emergency room volume and urgency of other patients, the wait could be anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour. A Memorial patient calling primary care for a same-day appointment will know the time they will be seen.”

Memorial established their walk-in clinic several years ago as a way to serve its primary care patients when those patients were not able to access same-day care due to lack of appointment availability. Additional appointment opportunities combined with a rise in the acuity and complexity of patients presenting to the ED led to discussions of how best to utilize space, team members and resources.

Memorial patients may call 603-356-5472 for more information or to schedule a same-day primary care appointment.

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About Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit 25-bed Critical Access Hospital located in North Conway, NH, and is a member of the MaineHealth family. Its hospital services include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, clinical laboratory, heart health & wellness programs, imaging services, cardiopulmonary care, family birthing center, oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services. Practices include primary care and family medicine, diabetes care, behavioral health, women's health, podiatry, orthopedics and physical therapy. Memorial Hospital is also home to The Merriman House nursing home, which provides senior care services in a comfortable, home-like setting. For more information, visit MemorialHospitalNH.org  or call 603-356-5461.

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