“The doctor will see you now. Like, RIGHT now.”

We’re having crazy-bad weather in Silicon Valley, which always makes me grateful for Valley Medical Center’s Emergency Department – at the ready 24/7/365.

But it’s gotten harder to meet the need, what with fewer hospitals around, and a skyrocketing number of unemployed coming to the “ED” (we don’t call it an “ER” like the TV show) because they just don’t have anywhere else to go.

So, to meet the need, the team opened an “Express Care” clinic across the hallway. It’s there for folks who are sick, but not sick enough to need a bed in the ED. “When you get there,” explains Dr. Jeff Arnold, Chief of the ED, the first person you see, right when you check in at the registration desk, isn’t a clerk or an administrator. It’s a doctor.”

Dr. Arnold has seen this speed up care dramatically. “If the first person you meet is an M.D., they can say things like ‘Okay, I want you to see the attending physician, but while you’re waiting I’ll refill your blood pressure medication'”. Then the doctor does it with a few key strokes, just moments later. The medication can be ready before the patient is ready to leave!

He’s really bothred by the number of newly-uninsured who have to choose between their vital medications and, say, groceries or paying the rent on time. “The advantage of having a doctor see patients right there at the desk extend beyond the obvious,” Dr. Arnold says. “Our patients know that right away, their care has begun. It gives them a feeling of comfort at a time when they are feeling pretty vulnerable and lousy.”

Sometimes, that’s as important as the clinical care VMC provides. If you want to help fund this unique program, visit the VMC Foundation website, or as always, give us a ring any time. To learn more about VMC’s emergency services, click here!

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