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Walk-In Clinics Don't Mean Immediate Attention

February 24, 2012, 6:11 PM by Kellee Azar

Walk-In Clinics Don't Mean Immediate Attention
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Our milder winter has given us a break in the severity of our flu season, but that doesn't mean doctors at KELOLAND walk-in clinics are getting a break in the number of patients filling up their exam rooms.

And more patients mean longer wait times. In some cases as long as four hours to see a doctor. But as doctors say, there may not be a break in the crush at the clinic even with a break in the weather.

It may be called a walk-in clinic, but lately you can't just walk in and expect to see a doctor.

"I've only been waiting 15 to 20 minutes, but they say the wait is 90," patient Steven Shields said.

And believe it or not, Friday is a good day if you're an impatient patient.

"In my experience it's been pretty easy to get into the walk in clinic and get checked out especially if it’s something that just popped up," Shields said.

But these days Shields is in crowded company because more people taking advantage of walk-in clinics like this one naturally leads to longer wait times.

"Today is the only day that I have ever had to wait very long," Stevens said.

Doctors agree the reason patients are choosing acute care over scheduling an appointment with their primary care physician is because of the convenience.

"I actually see a trend more towards acute care I think that people want more of an on demand medical service and many physician’s schedules are full and so they can’t get into their regular doctors," Sanford Physician Dr. Clayton Van Balen said.

"You just need a quick visit, sometimes it takes a while to get into a regular doctors office for an appointment." Shields said.

"I think you see many young people like yourself that can't afford to take time away from work," Van Balen said.

Van Balen believes with busier lives the hours most primary care physicians work no longer fit into the average person's life.

"Many primary care providers don't work after hours and so they are utilizing the acute care as they primary care provider," Van Balen said.

Not only is acute care open at better times but some patients even feel it gets them back on their feet quicker.

"Kind of wanted to get it nipped in the bud so you know I don't have to be sick all weekend and I can go back to work," Shields said.

And *that means more work for doctors like Van Balen whose acute care fills a necessary hole in the medical field.

"I think it’s the service many people want to be able to get in when they can get in. They want to be able to walk in from there job at noon and many providers don't have that luxury so they want to utilize a service that is convenient to them and that is what acute care is so good about," Van Balen said.

A good as acute care clinics are, they're not the right choice for all that ails you. Doctors say if you're having serious health issues, such as chest pain or excessive bleeding, that's when you should go to an ER.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.

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