Cancer treatment can cause a number of hard-to-handle symptoms, but patients who seek care for those symptoms may end up in the emergency room, which is not an ideal setting. In response, one major hospital created an urgent care clinic specializing in oncology.
Johns Hopkins Hospital, a 1,145-bed facility in Baltimore, launched an urgent care center in 2014 for its cancer patients, which is located beside the part of the hospital where patients are given chemotherapy treatments, according to an article from The Baltimore Sun. It’s open 12 hours each weekday, with plans to open on Saturdays starting in the spring, and the center sees about 10 patients per day, according to the article.
"We knew sending our patients to the emergency room was not in their best interests," Sharon Krumm, director of nursing administration at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, told the newspaper. "If they have a heart problem or a stroke, yes, it's a good place for them, but that's not what was happening."
Thus far, patients at the urgent care center have seen lower costs, as has the hospital, and visiting a dedicated facility reduces the infection risk the ED poses to immunocompromised patients, according to the article.
Hospitals have been partnering with urgent care centers to reduce ER overcrowding, FierceHealthcare previously reported. While some hospitals may choose to offer their own urgent care centers, others are instead joining forces with existing chains, and thus far both patients and providers benefited from lower costs and shorter waits. Wait times are typically shorter for patients who go to hospital-run urgent care centers, too.