Throughout Friday afternoon, people of all ages with minor aliments walked through the doors at the newly established health clinic on Forest Oaks Boulevard.
Some came without health insurance, some without primary care providers. All seemed grateful for the care the clinic offered.
"I'm quite happy with my visit," said Andrea Taylor of Spring Hill. "The staff was awesome, and I was seen in a reasonable amount of time."
The Hernando County Health Department's new Express Clinic will provide walk-in primary care services every Friday from 1 to 7 p.m., handling minor issues such as sore throats, fevers, minor cuts, strains and sprains.
The clinic is staffed by Dr. Rashid Daud and nurse practitioner Katrina Orner, both already established with the Health Department.
The aim of the clinic is to provide greater access to health care, especially in the current economy, and to take the load off of hospitals.
"By making this service affordable and accessible, we hope to help decrease the number non-emergent visits to local hospital emergency rooms," said Elizabeth Callaghan, administrator of the Hernando Health Department, in an e-mail. "Decreasing unnecessary ER visits saves money for all of us."
The agency identified the need for such a clinic and allocated the funds out of its budget. "This is something we have cobbled together to meet the needs of the community," said Virginia Crandall, assistant community health nursing director.
The Health Department already has walk-ins for some situations such as immunizations, but appointments are usually required for a person to be seen by a physician. The new clinic does not accept appointments and patients will be seen in the order they arrive each Friday.
"For many of our clinics you can call and get an appointment within 24 hours," said Crandall. "But if you're not an established patient, we aren't always able to accommodate. We have a waiting list to be established as a primary care provider."
Cash, credit cards, Medicaid, and Medicare are accepted at the clinic, where a flat fee of $60 is charged for all visits. Additional charges of $10 to $20 may be incurred if treatment and/or lab tests are performed.
Private insurance is not accepted, but patients will receive receipts that may be submitted to individual insurers for possible reimbursement.
Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The doctor is in every Friday
The Hernando County Health Department Express Clinic is open every Friday from 1 to 7 p.m. for nonemergency care. Appointments are not accepted; patients are seen first-come, first-served. The clinic is at 7465 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill. For information, call (352) 540-6800.