Health care for visitors: What's available when you're away from home and need medical care

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
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Nothing can derail a vacation quite like an unexpected trip to the emergency room. In Southeast Missouri, visitors have plenty of options for quick, easy and affordable health care. Here's a look at walk-in services offered by local hospitals, plus a mini-directory of clinics offering urgent care.

Missouri Delta Medical Center

Express Care, just behind Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston, Mo., is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for walk-ins and appointments. The clinic is staffed by physicians Monday through Friday, and nurse practitioners on Saturday and Sunday. Latina Hampton, operations director at the hospital, says visitors with nonemergency conditions are often directed to Express Care from the emergency room. The hospital oversees additional walk-in clinics in Sikeston and Charleston, Mo.

"The clinics are great for nonemergency-type illnesses and injuries, and the wait is usually reduced," says Hampton. "We recommend those patients with nonemergency-type problems come to the clinics and keep the emergency room open for the more severe emergencies," she says, such as car accidents and heart problems.

Perry County Memorial Hospital

The Perryville, Mo., hospital offers After Hours Care, a walk-in clinic that's part of the emergency room and open 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

"It helps cover those times that offices are closed," says Melissa Hayden, emergency room outpatient nurse manager at the hospital. "It is part of the emergency room, but it's more cost-effective than the ER."

Patients who check into the emergency room are evaluated and referred to After Hours Care for nonemergency conditions, such as a sore throat, bladder infection or earache, says Hayden.

Saint Francis Medical Center

Saint Francis has a walk-in clinic adjacent to the emergency room that is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. The hospital also operates Immediate Convenient Care clinics in Cape Girardeau and Perryville, Mo., and works with Doctors Express, on South Mount Auburn Road in Cape Girardeau. Each clinic has extended hours and is within a mile or two of Interstate 55, where billboards inform drivers of the nearby services, says Alex Ogburn, director of occupational health services and Immediate Convenient Care at Saint Francis Medical Center.

"The system is set up so any Bob Smith or Jane Doe can come in and be cared for," says Ogburn.

The clinics are prepared to handle nonemergency situations like strep throat, a sinus infection, work-related injuries, allergy complaints and lacerations in need of stitches, he adds.

"Most often at the convenient care clinics, the door-to-door time is around an hour. It may be more if you need lab tests and X-rays," says Ogburn. The clinics are also more cost-effective for visitors in need of treatment for mild ailments. Many insurances companies will only cover 20 percent of the cost for an ER visit, while the copay to a clinic is usually around $20, says Ogburn.

Guests who aren't sick and just want to stay fit while they travel may purchase up to 10 one-day passes to Saint Francis' Fitness Plus. Passes offer full access to the facility and its services for the entire day, says Doug Friese, director of Fitness Plus. Also, on monthly guest days, Fitness Plus members may bring up to two guests to the facility at no extra cost.


Southeast Hospital's ERexpress, open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., is part of the emergency room. The clinic, led by a nurse practitioner, treats walk-in patients with minor cuts; simple sprains, strains and broken bones; and illnesses such as rashes, earaches, sinus pressure and low-grade fevers, says Angela Selzer, lead nurse practitioner at SoutheastHEALTH.

"If you become suddenly ill or injured and can't get in to see your primary care provider or the office is closed, we are there to help. No appointment is necessary," says Selzer. "The goal is to treat patients within 90 minutes from sign-in to sign-out."

Patients who come to the emergency room are seen first by a registered nurse, who then decides if the patient will be cared for in the emergency room or ERexpress, says Selzer.

Southeast also offers guest passes to its HealthPoint Fitness centers for one day or several, says Amy Sutherlin, fitness manager at HealthPoint in Cape Girardeau. Southeast operates another fitness center in Jackson.