There are around 7,164 urgent care facilities in the United States, all offering a variety of services for non-life-threatening medical conditions and situations. Due to the average urgent care center’s ability to prescribe evaluate a patient’s needs, prescribe needed antibiotics and pain medication, and more over the course of a single visit, many communities feel that these walk in clinics are an important component of their local healthcare services. For this reason, a county in South Central Kansas is considering adding a half-cent sales tax in order to raise the funds to build an urgent care clinic in the area.
The sales tax, which is up for approval during the November election, would be instituted in Cowley County for a period of ten years. By raising the funds slowly over time, the South Central Kansas medical community hopes to balance the need for additional, affordable services, such as urgent care facilities, with fiscal responsibility. However, the proposed center may need to be instituted sooner rather than later: a shortage of local doctors in the area is reportedly causing many residents to wait to obtain needed services or clog hospitals with conditions that do not require emergency room care. Moreover, many patients are finding it difficult to pay off their medical expenses: the South Central Kansas Medical Center reports that it is writing off as much as $44,000 a day in services to Medicaid, Medicare, insurance companies, and patients unable to make payments. While most people likely consider medical care a basic human right, this nevertheless makes it difficult for local practices to sustain their clinics.
For this reason, many in Cowley County believe that adding an urgent care facility to the area could only help. Unlike a hospital or doctors office, urgent care centers see patients immediately, with over 80% of urgent care patients reportedly waiting 15 minutes or less for treatment. Combined with convenient hours all seven days of the week, this would make it easier for Cowley-area residents to access medical care in a timely manner. Additionally, most urgent care facilities charge relatively inexpensive treatments and accept both health insurance plans and payments to cover services. Most importantly, as many urgent care clinics form partnerships with companies to treat workplace-related injuries or provide employment-related drug testing, these centers often have a sustainable business model to support their practice.
With the vote for the half-cent sales tax rapidly approaching, it remains to be seen if Cowley County will approve this method of raising funds for an urgent care center. But as admirable as this intended fundraising method may be, a more pressing question remains unanswered: can this underserved South Central Kansas community wait ten years for more medical clinics? Or do the needs of its residents call for hastened action? Read more like this.