Urgent care center will connect the dots of caring in Pratt

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Pratt Regional Medical Center representatives Mike Miller and Amanda Vandervoort explain how a drive-though garage-bay will provide a unique medical care aspect for the new Pratt Urgent Care Center which is under construction at 1600 E. First Street in Pratt.

Amanda Vandervoort, Pratt Regional Medical Center Director of Health Information, and Mike Miller, PRMC Risk Manager, represent a dedicated group of people who are seeing a dream in-the-works for several years come to fruition in the form of the Urgent Care Center being built by Pratt Medical Center at 1600 E. First Street in Pratt.

With a projected completion date of sometime in June 2021, Pratt Urgent Care Center supporters are ready to share with the community how urgent care differs from emergent care, and how this facility will connect the dots of care between people, processes and systems to fill a special niche.

"Urgent care is what is needed between going to the emergency room and waiting for a regular appointment with a physician," Vandervoort said. "We are filling a gap here that we haven't been able to fill before, having a physician available for walk-in medical needs every weekday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m."

Vandervoort said an urgent care facility was perfect for when a child falls off playground equipment, or someone needs stitches, a simple x-ray because of an injury, blood pressure check, or help with fighting influenza.

"This is a simple point of care option that was one of the top needs asked for by our citizens in the last community health needs survey," she said. "It's so exciting to see this all come together."

The new Pratt Urgent Care Center is rising from a remodel of the former Aaron's Rent to Own business that was in a building owned by Dale Withers of Pratt. Inside, Chase Galle and crew from J. A. Knight & Sons, General Contractors of Pratt have finished dry-walling new spaces and have painted the walls with a muted-color paint scheme. Potential patients will enter a front door on the south side into an open reception area, while mid-sized patient rooms are just steps beyond the front desk.

"There are four exam rooms, with two of them using an enhanced air-exhaust system to prevent infectious transmission," said Miller. "We have a medication room, a lab room, break room, two bathrooms, and a big area in the middle that will be part of a phase-two plan that comes later for wound care and infusions." 

Probably the most exciting aspect of the new care facility is, however, a drive-through, east-west, garage bay in which patients may receive care without ever leaving their vehicle or being exposed to the elements.

"I've seen a set-up like this in Lincoln, Nebraska," Miller said. "We looked at a lot of different urgent care facilities to come up with the best design for Pratt and I'm happy to say there isn't anything like this anywhere close to our area."

Vandervoort said that when weather was a factor, or for some reason a person was not able to get out of their car, there would be three ways to access drive-in health care at the the new facility. First a QR scan code will be part of the signage, providing a secure, interactive messaging portal through a system called Qliq; second, there will be a Pratt Urgent Care website that has a chat feature which will enable patients to correspond directly with medical staff on duty as they approach the care center; third, there will always be the option to call the front desk and get help directly by phone.

"We are forging a new pattern for health care that will best meet the needs of our community," Miller said. "People already come here we just didn't have this service to offer, and now we will."

The need for an urgent care facility in Pratt was actually identified as a top item of interest in a 2018 Pratt Community Health Needs Assessment Survey. Since that time, a special board of medical and community leaders have been working to meet that need, hoping to create a community-driven collaboration that will improve the health of all those who live and work in Pratt County and surrounding catch-areas.

Hiring local contractors has been a priority for the project, and in addition to J.A. Knight and Sons (which is now working on an exterior stucco finish), Westhoff Plumbing of Pratt is also working on the interior of the building. Locally sourced artwork will soon decorate the walls as the finishing touches are put on along with flooring, radiology equipment and furniture.

"We are feeding our local economy and want to support Pratt," Vandervoort said. "Unlike some of those other 'for profit' emergent centers, we are here to put everything back into our community."