Urgency center in Blaine alternative to emergency room

Matt Brandt, chief executive officer of Multicare Associates, has simple advice if you are ever deciding if you need to go to the emergency room.

“If you can drive yourself to the E.R. (emergency room), you should drive yourself here first,” Brandt said, referring to the new urgency center that Multicare Associates and North Memorial are opening April 29 at the Blaine Medical Center, 11855 Ulysses St. N.E. An open house is scheduled 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27.

Multicare Associates, in partnership with North Memorial, is opening an urgency center at the Blaine Medical Center April 29. Pictured are Multicare Associates Chief Executive Officer Matt Brandt and Dr. Amy Kolar, medical director for the North Memorial Emergency Department. Photo by Eric Hagen
Multicare Associates, in partnership with North Memorial, is opening an urgency center at the Blaine Medical Center April 29. Pictured are Multicare Associates Chief Executive Officer Matt Brandt and Dr. Amy Kolar, medical director for the North Memorial Emergency Department. Photo by Eric Hagen

The urgency center will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, 365 days a year, including holidays. It will provide more cost-effective and timely medical care for people whose injuries are serious enough that a clinic could not help them, but not at the severity where an ambulance needs to take them to the hospital.

An urgency center should not be confused with the more common urgent care clinics, which can help with earaches, sprains or strains, cuts and bruises, sore throats, pink eye, rashes and much more. Multicare Associates already has an urgent care facility at the Blaine Medical Center.

If you go to urgent care with a broken arm, they cannot administer IV dosages for the pain, set the bone and put your arm in a cast because these facilities typically have a family practice doctor or a physician assistant, according to Dr. Amy Kolar, medical director for the North Memorial Emergency Department.

This urgency center will have board certified emergency physicians that have worked in emergency room at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, Brandt said.

“These guys are running full trauma at the (North Memorial) hospital, so they’re very experienced,” he said. “So essentially they are taking that experience and bringing it to the outpatient setting.”

Kolar said the urgency center will be able to treat patients who have chest pains, sports injuries, kidney stones, broken bones, dislocated joints, abdominal pain and concussions, for example.

If further examination determines that patient needs to be admitted to a hospital, an ambulance could transport them, but ambulances will not bring people to an urgency center.

Emergency rooms have been filled with patients who do not need to be there and it runs up health care costs because it costs insurance companies, you and your employer more money if you visit an emergency room instead of an urgency center, according to Kolar.

For instance, a facility fee and professional fee are charged in a hospital setting. The facility fee is not charged at an urgency center.

“Probably 80 percent of patients seen in an ER aren’t admitted (to the hospital). They end up being discharged,” Kolar said. “By providing emergency services in an out-of-hospital setting, we’ll be able to provide definitive care to a wide range of people at a lower cost with added convenience and efficiency.”

Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids is eight miles away from the Blaine Medical Center and Unity Hospital in Fridley is just over six miles away, so Brandt said having an urgency center in a large city like Blaine makes sense.

Multicare Associates has been in the Blaine community for about 40 years. It did not anticipate anything like this when the new Blaine Medical Center opened in 2007 because urgency centers have only been around for a few years, according to Brandt. The two sides began discussing a partnership on this new urgency center about the time that North Memorial opened a new clinic in Blaine over a year ago.

Fortunately, the Blaine Medical Center layout and equipment already on-site made it an attractive location. Suburban Imaging already had CT, ultrasound and MRI scanning machines on-site that the urgency center will be able to utilize, according to Brandt.

If this urgency center goes well, the building could be expanded another 15,000 square feet, Brandt said.

Urgency center open house at Blaine Medical Center 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27