St. Catherine Hospital will open on Monday the Med-Clinic, a new convenient care clinic made possible by a national grant aimed at lowering health care costs by providing an alternative to Emergency Department visits.
The State of Indiana recognized the need to decrease non-emergency emergency room visits and is piloting the Med-Clinic at St. Catherine Hospital, an alternative site of care for non-emergent illnesses. The clinic will be funded in part with a grant from The State of Indiana, Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning.
The goal of the pilot project is to improve access to primary care and reduce unnecessary emergency room visits. Only two hospitals in Indiana have received monies for this program - St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and Wishard Health Services in Indianapolis.
“We are excited about this opportunity to pilot new ideas to provide cost efficient care,” said JoAnn Birdzell, St. Catherine Hospital CEO. “Most importantly, this project will serve to improve access to primary health care for everyone in Northwest Indiana.”
The Med-Clinic at St. Catherine Hospital has been designed to operate as a convenient care clinic addressing the everyday health needs of patients 18 months and older. Under the direction of Matthew Libiran, M.D., the staff consists of board-certified, Advanced Family Nurse Practitioners who can diagnose and prescribe medications and treatments for a variety of illnesses.
The Med-Clinic will treat patients with non-emergent conditions such as a cold, flu or upper respiratory aliments. To keep patients healthy, the clinic also offers health screenings, and vaccinations. The clinic will also provide screening for underlying mental health conditions that frequently compel people to seek treatment in the emergency room.
Located on the campus of St. Catherine Hospital, 4321 Fir Street in East Chicago, the Med-Clinic is steps away from the Emergency Department with its own entrance off Elm Street. Patients are seen on a walk-in basis without appointment. Open seven days each week, the hours are noon to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The phone number is (219) 392-7945. Most major insurance plans are accepted including Medicare and Medicaid.
Should follow-up care be necessary, a record of a visit can be sent to the patient’s regular doctor. For those who don’t already have a physician, patient navigators are available and ready to help find the right physician. Patient navigators will also link patients with resources such as discounted pharmaceutical programs, free health screenings, educational programs and other needed health services.
According to the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning (OMPP), Indiana has a higher Emergency Room utilization rate than the national average with 89 visits per 100 Medicaid recipients. To address this issue, OMPP proposed a pilot project that targets two areas in the state – Indianapolis and East Chicago.
“This project has many dimensions including implementation of a convenient care clinic to serve as an alternative to emergency room treatment; screen for mental health conditions in persons presenting with non-specific signs and symptoms; and, making patient navigators available who will link patients to appropriate primary care and or mental health services and community resources,” said Dr. Libiran.
Anticipated outcomes of the project are to:
• Reduce non-emergency use of the emergency room
• Reduce costs incurred for non-emergency usage of the ED
• Increase proper diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions
• Increase the number of Medicaid recipients who identify and utilize a primary care physician as their medical base instead of the emergency room
• Educate patients at the point of service about appropriate use of ER services and of alternative ways to access non-emergency care
Created by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA), the grants will help Medicaid programs fund local and rural initiatives to provide alternative health care settings for individuals with non-emergent medical needs. The DRA provided $50 million to be distributed over four years (2006-2009) for primary health care programs, primarily in rural and/or other underserved areas as well as programs that work closely with community hospitals.