Urgent Care Clinic becomes appointment-only clinic April 1

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Offutt's urgent care clinic will transition to an acute care clinic beginning Tuesday.

There won't be any reduction in care provided to patients; however, how patients go about getting the same quality care has changed.

Acute care clinic patients will no longer be seen on a walk-in basis. Instead, those patients needing non-emergent care will first have to call 232-CARE for a same-day appointment or to be seen within 24 hours of their initial call.

The primary mission of the acute care clinic is to provide medical care to patients with minor illnesses or injuries that need to be treated within the next 24 hours, or if their over-the-counter medication isn't working and waiting until a primary care manager is available will cause problems or suffering.

"The goal of the acute care clinic is to get our folks to the right care at the right time in the right place," said Maj. Sharon Gober, the 55th Medical Operations Squadron primary care flight commander. "The priority we place on patient care has not and will not change."

Patients needing care will first have the opportunity to get an appointment with their primary care manager, Major Gober said.

If a patient calls and finds their PCM is not available, patients will then be scheduled for an appointment at the acute care clinic between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. in that same phone call, "increasing the ability to be seen for the acute illness, injury or minor ailment without having to wait for extended time periods before seeing a provider," the major added.

Often, based on the volume of patients, people would have to wait several hours at the UCC before being seen by a provider. This transition will give patients the flexibility to schedule when they are seen at the acute care clinic - reducing wait times.

"We've analyzed the number of people that have come to the urgent care clinic over the last year and scheduled the same number of appointments on those days to match the historic trend in patient volume," Major Gober explained. "The number of acute care appointments should match the number of patients seen at the UCC on any given day. So we really won't have a loss in the number of patients seen, the only change will be a reduction in the length of time patients need to wait before seeing a provider."

For after hours care, patients calling 232-CARE will be referred to their after-hours PCM.

As before, for life, limb or eyesight threatening emergencies, patients should continue to go to the nearest emergency department for care or call 911.

"The 55th Medical Group lacks the robust capabilities needed to treat emergency conditions that may be life-threatening," she explained. "The implementation of the acute care clinic will help us ensure we're not getting illnesses or conditions that we can't manage."

Major Gober said ambulance services will still be available for the base population, but, if an emergency occurs, "the clinic staff may transport patients to the nearest emergency department."