TAMPA - Larry Stone was boating on Boca Ciega Bay when he stepped on an oyster shell. He knew he needed stitches.
"I cut my foot and I needed to have it looked at," he said.
Over the weekend, when most primary care offices are closed, most people would head to the nearest ER -- but Stone went to one of Bayfront's Convenient Care Clinics in Pinellas County.
"It was really quick and easy and saved me on time. And actually, the co-pay was smaller than a visit to the ER would have been," said Stone.
For the many people who have high deductible insurance policies -- where you pay out of pocket until that high deductible has been met -- a trip to the ER would be even more expensive.
Nathan Waldrep is a doctor and the Medical Director for all six of Bayfront’s Convenient Care Facilities.
“An average cost if you were paying out of pocket for a laceration repair in an emergency room would be $700-800. Our average cost for a visit, no insurance, is $150-200 for the same level of care," he told us.
Why? There's less overhead in a clinic.
“An emergency room has to be staffed with a lot of bodies to keep that place one and running," he said.
And an ER has expensive life saving equipment. Doctor Andrew Alexander works the ER at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa.
“In the ER we can provide a whole series of blood tests to cat scans ultrasounds and we can get those back generally in a very timely manner,” Alexander said.
Doctor Alexander told us about 50% of the patients he sees each day could actually be treated at an urgent care clinic. He offers tips on when you know you do need an ER.
“If you have a condition that is so painful you cannot bear it any more or you think you have a life threatening condition like trouble breathing, a stroke, chest pain, that clearly belongs in the emergency room. If you have an ear ache a sore throat or something that's been going on for while that can be seen in your clinic that's what you need to go to an urgent care center for.”
With convenient care clinics and after-hours pediatric clinics no appointment is usually necessary and no authorization is needed from an insurance company.
Here are the locations. You can also find this information on their website: www.bayfrontclinic.com.
3251 66th St. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
7000 4th St. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
7601 Seminole Blvd.
Seminole, FL 33772
13163 66th Street N.
Largo, FL 33773
Gulf Beach Clinic
6455 Gulf Blvd.
St. Pete Beach, FL 33706
1550 S. Pasadena Ave.
South Pasadena, FL 33707
Copyright (c) 2009 HGTV and Scripps Howard News Service
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