Interviewed by Emily Freehling
From cuts and scrapes to minor illnesses, life with kids includes lots of moments of asking, “Where should we go to get this checked out?” Not every ailment warrants an appointment with a primary care physician, and visiting the emergency room can mean a long wait. Luckily, there’s a “just right” option for the types of illnesses and injuries that are prone to pop up, allowing families to receive the care they need without too much disruption to their busy lives. Mary Washington Urgent Care is our July Expert. With locations in King George and south Stafford, Mary Washington Urgent Care’s goal is to provide expert medical care and get you back out and on with your day as quickly as possible. We chat this month with Mary Washington Urgent Care Operations Manager Jason Hamilton and Mary Washington Urgent Care Medical Director Dr. William Reese about how to make the most of this level of care.
Q: What kinds of medical needs can you take care of at Mary Washington Urgent Care?
JASON HAMILTON: We handle a lot of the issues that you’d normally go to your primary care doctor for—colds, fevers, pink eye, rashes, allergies, minor cuts that need sutures. These are things you can’t always get in quickly with your primary care doctor about, and we are here to help handle those quickly and get you better and back to your day. Our goal is that a visit should take no longer than 30 to 40 minutes.
DR. WILLIAM REESE: We have basic tests for many things, including flu, pregnancy, mono, strep throat. We can check and treat strep throat very quickly.
Q: How should parents decide whether a problem would be better solved with a visit to Mary Washington Urgent Care or the emergency room?
DR. WILLIAM REESE: If a parent ever has any question, they can call the urgent care centers at 540-741-MWUC (6982) and ask. Typically, we treat minor injuries and illnesses. We are trying to target illnesses and injuries that we can treat very quickly and get the patient back to their day. If you go to the ER for these, you might be waiting for hours. We can treat them almost immediately and turn the patient around and get them back out the door in short order.
JASON HAMILTON: We don’t take care of anything having to do with life, limb or eyesight. If you are having chest pain, we encourage you to visit the nearest emergency room. Coming to urgent care first would delay care.
Q: Do I have to call ahead to come to urgent care?
JASON HAMILTON: You do not have to call ahead, we take walk-ins. Both of our urgent care centers are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can go to urgent.mwhc.com and click the link to let us know you’re on your way. This reserves your spot in line and allows us to prepare for your visit. It is important to note that this is not the same as making an appointment; urgent care centers do not take appointments.
Q:What distinguishes Mary Washington Urgent Care from other urgent care facilities in our area?
DR. WILLIAM REESE: A lot of the urgent care centers out there are not focusing solely on urgent care. People are coming in for things that really should be taken care of by a primary care physician. We are a true urgent care center. We are not trying to do primary care for people. We are trying to focus on these minor illnesses and injuries so that we can be very good at what we do. The practitioners at Mary Washington Urgent Care centers undergo specialized training in urgent care. They are overseen by myself, a board-certified emergency physician with 30 years’ experience. We try to adhere to a higher standard by focusing on a true urgent care situation. Where followups are needed, we set them up with a provider in the community.
JASON HAMILTON: When we pass a patient from an urgent care provider to a primary care or specialist provider within the Mary Washington family, the transfer of medical records is seamless. We want it to feel like a team process. Mary Washington Healthcare uses EPIC for its electronic medical records, and that system allows seamless access to records for providers, enabling a smooth continuum of care. Patients also have access to those records through MyChart, which is the patient portal side of EPIC.
Q:Can I get a school or athletic physical for my child at Mary Washington Urgent Care?
JASON HAMILTON: That’s not necessarily urgent care, but it’s a common need we’ve seen in the community, so we have decided to provide this service. School physical visits often aren’t covered by insurance, so we made the decision to set a flat fee of $50 for these physicals to make them as affordable as possible for the community.
Q:Can I get tested for Covid-19 at Mary Washington Urgent Care?
JASON HAMILTON: The King George urgent care center is a Mary Washington drive-through Covid-19 testing site. Anyone with an order from a doctor can come here and get tested. Without an order, area residents can come to our urgent care centers, get an assessment, and we can conduct the test right there if it is deemed appropriate. In general, it’s important for the community to know that as with all Mary Washington Healthcare facilities, our urgent care centers exceed all CDC recommendations on cleaning and safety. We have dedicated an exam room for Covid-possible patients. Right now, we are taking patients directly to exam rooms for processing so that there is no potential for infection to spread in our waiting rooms. We have a heavy emphasis on preventing the spread of Covid-19 or any other infection like the flu. To come into our centers, you need to wear a mask, and we will offer you a mask if you do not have one. We are hyper-focused on patient safety and good outcomes.
We want to encourage people in the community not to ignore any signs of illness or regular screenings that they need medical care for at this time. We have strong safety protocols in place, and the downside of waiting to get something checked out can be very serious. If people are not feeling well, we want to make sure they come see us, or the appropriate care provider who can help make sure their health stays on track during this time. Learn more about Mary Washington Urgent Care at urgent.mwhc.com.