State Officials Order Around the Clock Urgent Care for Boothbay Harbor

In Boothbay Harbor, Maine, state officials have ordered the local health care provider to offer 24/7 urgent care — and area residents are surprised but happy for the new option.

Last year, St. Andrews Hospital, along with its emergency room, was closed down, and the facility was merged with Miles Hospital in Damariscotta. The new, combined organization is Lincoln Health. In place of St. Andrew’s former ER, a 12 hours-per-day urgent care center was opened. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services approved the merger with the condition that an around-the-clock urgent care opened on the Boothbay peninsula.

“We were very surprised. We really didn’t expect to get anything,” said Patty Seybold, president of the Boothbay Region Health and Wellness Foundation. She explained that locally, many people had been pressuring the state to keep medical care on the peninsula. “We feel like we’ve been heard by the powers that be in Augusta,” said Seybold.

Others, such as Lincoln County Health Center Vice President Cindy Wade, think the decision to offer 24-hour urgent care is a mistake owing to a lack of demand. During the winter, Wade says that the facility would see between zero to six patients a day, and in the spring, 10 to 18 was more typical. Keeping the urgent care open twice as long requires more staff on hand, and Wade estimates the cost of this additional upkeep could total up to $1.75 million annually.

Foundation members, though, argue that the hospital has saved money through closing St. Andrews and its emergency room — money that can be used to cover the costs of an urgent care. The order requires the urgent care to open for around the clock business within the next 90 days. Wade predicts that it will be difficult to hire staff within that deadline, and remains apprehensive about costs.

“Patients need access to timely, efficient and high quality medical care and the urgent care medicine model answers that need. In general, urgent care centers can treat a variety of ailments including sprains, small burns, insect bites, allergies, and sore throats. Urgent care centers have a place in all communities no matter their size and we believe providing patient access to this type of medicine will keep the costs of medical care down across the board for communities.” Alison Hare, Practice Manager ofDoctors Express Urgent Care

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