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Last day at Urgent Care

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Beginning Monday, driving to Urgent Care is going to mean a whole new route.

Urgent Care was born June 17, 1997, in Brainerd. Now, nearly 15 years later, the medical staff is moving from the clinic on South Sixth Street in Brainerd to the Baxter Medical Park and the new clinic, which is open for business Monday.

Even with the announced move, clinic staff expect patients will still make their way to south Brainerd before everyone realizes Urgent Care is one of the services making the move to Isle Drive near Walmart in Baxter to the newly constructed clinic.

Urgent Care was created to relieve the burden on the Emergency Room. Patients without acute distress or major medical concerns could be treated for a wide variety of health care issues without clogging the ER or spending additional time waiting to be treated as the ER focuses on the most severe need first. And treating people suffering from any number of non-life threatening ailments away from the ER also saved resources for health care providers and patients.

“It’s a cost savings for people to come to Urgent Care,” said Dr. Kurt DeVine, Urgent Care chair.

DeVine spent most of his career in family practice, with 17 years in Little Falls working with well-care checkups and delivering babies. He’s been at Essentia Health St. Joseph’s-Brainerd Clinic’s Urgent Care for four years.

“The first week I was here we had a stab wound,” DeVine said, seated in one of the exam rooms at Urgent Care during his last shift at the Brainerd clinic. At Urgent Care, no one can be sure who will walk in the door next be it someone seeking relief from the common cold to that stab wound.

Urgent Care may treat 50 to 100 people in a 12-hour day. About half the cases are routine and the other half more serious. A small amount, 2 percent to 3 percent, are in the wrong place and need to be sent to the ER, DeVine said. Each week, Urgent Care sent patients to the hospital when more tests were needed. Now in Baxter, Urgent Care will have access to items such as an ultrasound so patients won’t need to leave the clinic for the procedure. They won’t have a CT scan available right away but that is expected to be added, DeVine said.

Patients at the Baxter clinic may make an appointment or walk-in. The Baxter clinic is making changes in the doctor’s work schedules so more patients may be seen by their primary care physicians even on a walk-in basis.

One of the unknowns is how many more people may seek treatment at the Baxter clinic with its greater visibility now on Highway 371 in the aftermath of bypass. DeVine estimates there is typically a 30 percent to 35 percent increase in patients during the summer months looking at the history of Urgent Care in Brainerd from May through August. Dr. Richard Roberts was the first Urgent Care physician back when the clinic was still known as Brainerd Medical Center.

For the Baxter clinic’s first day Monday, Essentia Health St. Joseph’s plans to have staff to greet people and make sure they know how to reach the clinic and parking. A circular drive up at the new clinic allows a path to drop people off by the front doors. The clinic is just past the Brainerd Surgical Center on Isle Drive, which is access off Glory Road by Walmart.

Pharmacies will be available at both the Brainerd and Baxter clinics. Eight physicians make the move to Baxter and eight stayed at the Brainerd clinic. When deciding who was going where, Essentia Health looked at having a balanced combination of experienced doctors and younger staff at each facility. Some doctors, who spent 30 years at the Brainerd clinic, chose to stay there. For others, who live in Baxter, making the move made more sense.

Urgent Care’s younger sibling, Convenient Care, opened in the Cub Foods store in Baxter in 2008. It provides a walk-in clinic for adults and children age 18 months and older to get medical treatment without an appointment. Convenient Care is provided by a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant and covers a specified list of ailments such as bladder infections, strep throat, sinus infections, colds and coughs, suture removals and vaccinations, among other services.

Patients have choices between Convenient Care, Urgent Care and the Emergency Room. Each week is likely to find someone who may have underestimated the severity of their condition and picked the wrong one. DeVine said if a person is having difficulty breathing or chest pains, the ER is the place to go.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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