By MAGGIE GEBHARDT

mgebhardt@dailynews.net

Hays Medical Center is taking steps forward as they strive to improve treatment options and accessibility for patients.

For better than before convenience, HaysMed will open a walk-in clinic Jan. 12 in the Oak park Medical Complex, 2501 E. 13th. The clinic will be in Building 4, Suite 11.

The goal of the clinic is to offer an alternative form of care for patients with minor illness and injuries, according to the medical center.

"(It) offers affordable, timely and convenient access to care," said HaysMed director of critical care Kevin Myers. "Injuries and illness don't always happen when your doctor's office is open."

The facility will provide care seven days a week, and to fulfill its purpose, is walk-in only -- no appointments.

Myers said the idea for a convenient care walk-in clinic has always been there, but the medical center had to overcome challenges before they had the capabilities to provide the service.

"We knew we needed a way to fill the need for unscheduled healthcare service at a reasonable cost," he said. "We needed a way to increase access to healthcare."

"This (clinic) will allow us to provide convenient, quick and affordable care to those patients in non-emergency conditions," said HaysMed chief nursing officer Terry Siek.

Considerable preparation went into getting the clinic ready to open by January.

HaysMed involved different groups within the medical center to decide what services to offer, hours of operation and even the name of the clinic, according to Myers and Siek.

Finding a location to meet the needs of the facility also took time.

"Because we already have clinics in operation, we were able to pull in our experts to work on billing, coding and collections," Siek said of the preparation.

Additionally, lab personnel were consulted to determine the lab types that would be offered on-site at the clinic.

Research then was conducted to determine whether the extension should be an urgent care clinic, retail walk-in clinic or a free standing emergency department.

"Because of the services we want to offer and the type of patient we want to serve, it was decided to go with the retail walk-in clinic model," Myers said.

After preparations and planning were complete, accommodations were made to the staff. Advanced practice providers, nurses and front staff members were recruited, Myers and Siek said.

A few of the benefits the community will reap are location, extended hours, no need for an appointment, lower co-payments than a hospital emergency room and quicker access to care for minor, non-life threatening illnesses aor injuries, they said.

"Walk-in facilities have been proven to be the better choice, medically and financially, when it comes to minor, non-life threatening needs," Siek said. "Choosing the right level of care is up to you as the patient."

"You now know there are other options besides the ER when you need access to quick, affordable medical care."

Patients of the walk-in clinic must be six months or older. Those 16 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Co-pays and self-pays are due at the time of service. Cash, credit/debit card or local check will be accepted. Being a patient of HaysMed is not a requirement to be seen, according to the medical center.

HaysMed Convenient Care Walk-In Clinic opens Jan. 12 at 8 a.m. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. They will close Thanksgiving and Christmas.