By JOHN P. EVANS III
Improved urgent care services have arrived in Denton and Caroline County, fulfilling an agreement made several years ago between the county and the University of Maryland Medical System.
The new center is now open and located at 8 Denton Plaza at the corner of Route 404 and Legion Road. Its hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. It replaces the old UMMS-operated convenient care center located in the Food Lion Plaza across the highway, a facility which had opened in October 2013. That location will now serve as doctors’ offices for UMMS affiliated primary care physicians Dr. Kim Herman, Dr. Katherine Cook and Dr. Wafik Zaki.
The new ChoiceOne Urgent Care facility is part of a network of unique medical centers that treat immediate, non-life threatening medical conditions. It is one of many centers operated by the Lutherville-based healthcare organization, but the first on the Eastern Shore.
“We are really excited about coming to the Shore,” ChoiceOne President and Chief Medical Officer Scott Burger said, adding that ChoiceOne planned to continue the care that had been provided since the opening of the previous location. The new ChoiceOne facility offers a wide array of medical services, both in the traditional sense and for more immediate or urgent care. Among its services are:
Pre-operative exams and sports physicals
Occupational health exams, including pre-employment physicals, drug testing, workers compensation exams and vaccinations.
Treatment for allergies, asthma, burns, colds, the flu, and skin rashes, as well as for nausea, earaches and infections.
Flu shots and vaccines.
X-ray and laboratory services.
On-site medication dispensing.
Treatment and diagnosis for broken bones, strains and sprains.
“This is a tremendous facility and a promise kept on the part of the University of Maryland Medical System,” said Caroline County commissioner Larry Porter. “From the beginning five years ago, there was a task force formed to come up with a Memorandum of Understanding between the county and Shore Regional Health (UMMS’s Easton-based medical services) to improve healthcare access in the county.
“There were 13 things we wanted that were part of that MOU. All 13 have been achieved,” Porter added.
Porter said there were three requirements of the MOU that stood out beyond the rest.
“Bringing a first-class Urgent Care facility to Denton was one of the promises of the agreement,” said Porter, who said the county also received a promise of $120,000 yearly for five years to maintain and improve the county’s EMT fleet and the reopening of the Hospice House in Easton.
“Though the urgent care facility is not managed by Shore Health, the hospital (Shore Health) did partner with ChoiceOne to bring first-class Urgent Care services to the county,” Porter said.
“We are now in the fourth year of the MOU agreement and Shore Health has made good on the contribution to support our emergency management fleet each year,” said Porter, who added that by releasing Caroline Hospice from its Certificate of Need, SHS enabled the shuttered county hospice organization to enter into a partnership with Compass Regional Hospice services, reopening the Hospice House and improving hospice care to county residents..
“Shore Regional Health and (SHS President and CEO) Ken Kozel have done everything they said they would do and more,” Porter added.
Porter said during its first year, the immediate care center on Fifth Street saw 4,000 patients, proving there was a need for an urgent care center. He added, however, that there were many complaints – mostly about the wait being too long to see a doctor, and the fact that the shorter hours weren’t convenient enough.
Those issues have been addressed by the new location, said Porter.
“Many of the county residents who called me to complain about the (original care center) have called me since the new (ChoiceOne) facility has opened and told me how much better it is now,” added Porter.
Porter said enough new staff has been hired to accommodate the expected need and that there are more examination rooms than in the old office.
The office area is more spacious with a large reception area, a triage room and six exam rooms. Digital x-rays and lab tests can be performed on-site. A small pharmacy is also located in the building.
“Caroline County finally has a first-class urgent care facility. No longer do our residents necessarily have to travel to Easton to get these services,” Porter said. “The longer hours will provide a much needed service to residents as well.”
Porter said many individuals other than himself deserved credit for their efforts in bringing such an urgent care facility to Denton.
He thanked Kozel and Shore Regional Health SVP Patti Willis for being “trustworthy” participants in the process of seeing that the promises made in the MOU came to fruition; Caroline County residents Keith McMahan and Wayne Howard, who serve on the SHS Board of Directors; County Administrator Ken Decker; Commissioners Chief of Staff Sara Visintainer and his fellow county commissioners Wilbur Levengood, Jeff Ghrist and Dan Franklin.
“The ChoiceOne facility would never have become a reality without the work of so many people on all sides,” said Porter.