Brunswick hospitals' walk-in clinics to be combined downtown

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BRUNSWICK — The walk-in clinic at Parkview hospital will close Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Mid Coast Health Services, which acquired Parkview Adventist Medical Center Aug. 20 in a bankruptcy court-approved sale, announced the decision to close the clinic just days later, on Aug. 26.

Parkview’s emergency department had been operating as a clinic since June 18, after the hospital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and moved emergency services to Mid Coast.

But Mid Coast was already operating a walk-in clinic just a mile and a half down the road, on Station Avenue.

Officials had earlier hinted they planned to close one of the two clinics, but gave no indication which one would be shut.

Mid Coast spokesman Steve Trockman on Aug. 28 said the decision was “clinically motivated.”

“It was a tough decision,” added Dr. Jay Mullen, medical director for emergency services at Mid Coast. “Duplicating services is not in best interests of anybody in the community or health care.”

In the end, it came down to the numbers, he said.

“We’d be serving (an estimated) 13,000 patients downtown, versus 2,000 at Parkview,” he said.

“It’s going to be hard for staff that have worked forever at Parkview … but it became more and more self-evident,” Mullen added.

All full- and part-time employees from Parkview have been offered positions at the new Mid Coast-Parkview Health, according to Mid Coast President Lois Skillings.

Furthermore, Mullen said, the Mid Coast walk-in clinic at Station Avenue was expanded this spring.

Ever since the clinic opened in 2011, patient volume has been growing by 10 to 20 percent a year, according to Mullen.

“We realized we were going to run out of space,” he said.

To accommodate the clinic’s increasing traffic, Mid Coast in March added an additional 650 square feet to the clinic, increasing the number of treatment rooms from four to seven, at a cost of $200,000, according to Trockman.

As Parkview’s walk-in functions move downtown, primary-care practices currently operating in the Station Avenue building will move into the old ER space at Parkview, Mullen said. 

Starting Sept. 8, the downtown clinic will expand its hours to 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and be open every day, according to a press release.

Unexpected benefits

After Mid Coast opened the walk-in clinic in 2011, Mullen said the emergency department noticed “an immediate reduction in the number of fast-track patients,” or people coming in with injuries requiring more straightforward care, like  a sprained ankle.

The benefits of this phenomenon are two-fold, Mullen said: giving these patients a care center that is not the ER relieves pressure on that department, as well as reducing the cost of treatment.

“The finding across the country right now is we need to take more sophisticated look at emergency department usage,” Mullen said.

“In Brunswick there are about 45,000 acute episodes of care being provided at the ER or the walk-in clinic,” he said. “As part of the integration (with Parkview) … we’re saying, ‘let us better plan to find places to give patients really high quality care, and do it in lower cost.'”

He said he believes that emergency and acute care at Mid Coast, fast-track at the walk-in clinic, and primary and outpatient care at Parkview will bring Brunswick closer to this vision.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Mid Coast Health Services will close the walk-in clinic at Parkview Adventist Medical Center and move it to this newly expanded facility on Station Avenue in Brunswick.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.