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Presbyterian to offer urgent care, ER under one roof


A preliminary rendering of Presbyterian’s future emergency/urgent care facility. (Courtesy of Dekker/Perich/Sabatini)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two free-standing medical clinics will be built by Presbyterian Healthcare Services this year, each of which will offer urgent and emergency care under one roof.

Presbyterian will open medical clinics at San Pedro and Paseo, and on the West Side at Coors and Learning in the first half of 2019. Both locations are vacant sites.

A third location in Uptown also is on the drawing board.

Construction costs have yet to be determined for the first two facilities, but site plans have been filed with city planning officials. Selection of a general contractor to oversee the projects also is pending, according to a Presbyterian spokeswoman.

Each facility will span about 12,500 square feet and provide employment for 30 people, said Dr. Darren Shafer, Presbyterian’s medical director of emergency medicine.

While it’s a hybrid model that’s caught on in other U.S. markets, combining an urgent care and emergency medical services in the same building is a concept that’s new to Albuquerque, said Shafer.

The facilities, to be overseen by emergency medicine physicians, will aim to “offer a single point of triage (to assess) the most appropriate level of care” and relieve the pressure on the town’s hospital-based emergency departments, said Shafer.

The emergency clinics will be open 24/7, and the urgent care side will be open into the late evening hours.

The model seeks to ensure that patients won’t use a high-cost, hospital-based emergency department to treat less serious health concerns — like flu, allergies and minor sprains — but also that they won’t seek urgent care for injuries that are too serious for those providers to handle.

A majority of patients will be classified as needing urgent care, Shafer said, but emergency services, including X-ray machines, CT scanners, EKGs and laboratory tests will be available. These will help assess serious, life-threatening conditions, including chest pain, breathing difficulties, abdominal pain and neurological complaints. For example, if a person is determined to be having a heart attack, medical staff will stabilize the patient at the clinic, arrange a transfer “and we’ll activate the cath lab downtown” for surgical intervention, said Shafer.

“In our facility, if you receive emergency care in the clinic, you’ll be billed for emergency care. If you receive urgent care in the clinic, you are billed for urgent care,” Shafer said.

Albuquerque-based Presbyterian operates eight hospitals statewide, primary care and urgent care clinics, a multi-specialty medical group with more than 800 physicians and surgeons and a statewide health plan.