ClearChoiceMD Strives to Fill the Niche Between Primary Care and the ER
ALTON — Residents who can’t get a timely visit to a primary care doc but not needing the emergency attention accompanying an ER visit now have a new option right at the traffic circle.
ClearChoiceMD, which opened at the circle on April 11, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week that was attended by local officials and representatives from the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. A festoon of balloons decorated the new facility’s lobby greeting attendees and patients alike. Salmon Press wasn’t able to catch the actual cutting of the ribbon, but manager Randal Hinds was kind enough to take this reporter for a walkthrough of the new facility, discussing along the way the site’s several services. Hinds said ClearChoiceMD “strives to provide a level of service of the highest quality,” which fills a “niche that’s more urgent than what a primary care physician might deliver without needing to go to an actual emergency room.” He said cuts, cases of strep, and minor bone breaks represent areas of the facility’s specialty.
Hinds noted that the facility is open daily from 8 a.m, to 8 p.m. and that a doctor is always on duty, and that qualified nurses and assistants can also assist clients. ClearChoiceMD is also authorized to prescribe scripts. “We’re the convenient alternative when your primary care doctor can’t fit you in and you don’t need the full services of an ER,” said Hinds, who is also a certified RN. He added that all facility staffers, with the exception of the MDs themselves, put in time intaking patients to instill a sense of empathy about clients’ conditions as they walk through the door. “Our goal is to have people in and out within an hour from when they walk through the door,” Hinds said, stressing that prompt, professional service is a cornerstone of ClearChoiceMD’s business plan. Hinds, who also manages the company’s Belmont facility and serves as an EMT in Franklin, said, “Even though we’re on that side of the desk, we know we could be walk-ins ourselves. We’re all in need of help at some point, so we want to know how we can best serve people in their moment of need,” Hinds added.
“We looked at what we thought people in this area need for services and overall wellness, so it made sense for us to open up here,” Hinds said of the Alton Circle location, which is situated in Homestead Place between the Rusty Moose Restaurant and Hannaford. Hinds said ClearChoiceMD at the circle is “serving a new niche that’s emerged in maybe the past 20 years.” “Often you need to be seen soon, right away, but your need might not require the full attention of an ER,” he added. “Cuts, lacerations, a sudden non-life-threatening illness - in the past you went to the ER, so we’re an option for people who need attention right away but don’t need to go to the emergency room.”
Hinds said that facilities like ClearChoiceMD have their roots in the West, where sparse populations and great distances generated a need for critical need providers at intermediate distances between hospital ERs. Rural locales like central New Hampshire aren’t too dissimilar Hinds said. He noted that ClearChoiceMD is “able to provide a high level of care at a lower expense than what emergency rooms charge,” but stressed that the facility is “definitely not a replacement for an ER.” He urged that local patients experiencing a potentially life-threatening episode should seek out a full-service hospital.
ClearChoiceMD’s Alton location includes seven exam rooms. Six of them are identical, with the seventh - the Procedure Room - devoted to more acute matters such as broken bones. There is also an onsite X-ray capability to help clients determine if they can be treated on-site or should seek more intensive procedures, Hinds described the photo-imaging equipment as “state-of-the art,” noting that clients leave the office with a disc containing digital files of their scans for use with follow-up appointments. He added that the facility also features EKG capabilities, and that staff can handle short-term procedures requiring splinting and some matters requiring an IV. “We are another option - really the more choices people have, the more proactive they can be, or have options in urgent situations,” Hinds said. “We’re an urgent care option - but our guiding concern is the wellness of the people who live here,” Hinds said.