FirstCare Walk-In Clinic fulfills a community need

When Trinity Health opened its FirstCare Walk-In Clinic Sept. 11, caregivers weren’t sure what to expect. Would patients welcome a non-emergent, primary care service on a no-appointment basis? The answer appears to be “yes.”

More than 60 patients visited the FirstCare Walk-In Clinic on its first day of operation, and volume has remained strong since then, according to Thomas M. Warsocki, FACHE, Trinity’s Vice President of Physician Network Services.

“Our numbers have shown there’s a need for a service that’s handy, accessible, and fits right in with people’s busy lifestyles,” Warsocki said. “Patients are appreciating the service.”

Holly Odegard is one of those patients. She visited the clinic twice in one week. “I was totally impressed with my visits,” she said. “I didn’t have to wait long at all – I’m sure I wasn’t there 10 minutes before I was called. The staff was great and very friendly. I was totally happy with the service.”

Walk-in clinics like FirstCare are part of a growing trend, according to the National Institutes of Health. They can provide a cost-effective alternative to the use of the emergency departments for some conditions. While studies are ongoing regarding the impact of such centers on quality care and the doctor-patient relationship, walk-in clinics like FirstCare have an advantage.

“FirstCare is linked to a strong, integrated health system so there’s no sacrifice in quality,” Warsocki said. “With FirstCare you get the best of both worlds – same-day, walk-in service backed by advanced, high-tech care if you need it.”

FirstCare welcomes patients seven days a week with extended hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on week days and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. FirstCare patients have ready access to lab, pharmacy, and imaging services in addition to the full range of multi-specialty services available through the Trinity Health system. That’s important to someone who might have a condition that requires a higher level of care.

Staffing the clinic is a new team of providers committed to providing first-class walk-in care. Dr. Marisa Albertson is a Minot native, who’s practiced Family Medicine in the community for many years. She’s joined by nurse practitioners Jessica Fricke, FNP-C, and Sandra Storey, FNP-C.

Dr. Albertson says FirstCare Walk-In Clinic is dedicated to serving patients of all ages in need of immediate care for non-life-threatening conditions.

“We treat any injury or illness that requires immediate care but isn’t serious enough to warrant a visit to the Emergency Department. For emergent conditions people should go to the Emergency/Trauma Center or call 911,” she said.

Choosing FirstCare Walk-In Clinic offers significant advantages for patients, Warsocki added. Trinity’s fully integrated electronic health record means a patient’s health information can follow them if they visit other Trinity providers. In addition, Trinity offers an online patient portal that gives patients secure internet access to their health information.

“Another patient friendly feature, thanks to our achievements as a ‘most wired’ system, is that patients can gauge how long they might have to wait. Our website, trinityhealth.org, provides average wait-times for FirstCare’s walk-in patients, with wait-time updates every 15 minutes,” Warsocki explained.

Dr. Albertson noted that patients who seek medical attention at FirstCare Walk-In Clinic may receive assistance in finding a primary care physician or specialty care physician if needed. “Every patient should have a regular provider who knows their history and can provide comprehensive care. But given the twists and turns of everyday life, we’re happy to offer FirstCare to get through those conditions that can’t wait,” she said, adding, “If you need care, we will see you.”

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