Partnerships, Employed Practices Combine to Increase
Primary and Urgent Care Access for Region’s Residents

The national shortage of primary care providers is making it difficult for patients to obtain an appointment in a timely manner, forcing an increasing number of patients to access emergency rooms for their primary care needs. While these patients still receive excellent care, the multiple drawbacks to this approach impacts healthcare systems and patients alike.

Saint Francis Medical Center is aggressively addressing this issue by ramping up its relationships with regional primary care and urgent care practices, and investing in its own practices. From a cost perspective, visits to primary care providers are less expensive than visits to the emergency room for treatment of the same health issue. More important, relying on the emergency room for primary care needs offers no continuity and minimal preventive care for the patient.

“Saint Francis has made considerable headway in bolstering the number of primary care providers with whom it is affiliated in a very short period of time, while continuing its support for existing providers,” states Steven C. Bjelich, FACHE-D, President and Chief Executive Officer at the Medical Center. “Our goal is to ensure the region’s residents have adequate access to urgent and primary care.”

Saint Francis continues to strengthen its partnership and employed practice affiliations with primary care providers throughout the region:

  • Jackson Family Care, Jackson, Mo.
  • Several primary care practices in the Cape Girardeau area
  • Cape Medical Group
  • Regional Primary Care
  • Mount Auburn Medical Group
  • Cape Physician Associates
  • Cape Primary Care

“The first members of the baby boom generation are turning 65 and going on Medicare this year,” Bjelich explains. “Combined with healthcare reform legislation that could inflate the number of individuals covered by some type of insurance, the additional demand for primary care services will strain systems not prepared for the transition.”

Saint Francis is also strengthening its presence in the urgent care and emergency care sectors. The recently completed expansion of its Gene E. Huckstep Emergency Center/Level III Trauma Center provides a significant physical plant upgrade, while partnerships with urgent care groups in the area provides additional access points for residents.

Doctors Express, an urgent care franchise with an immediate care clinic at 465 S. Mount Auburn Road in Cape Girardeau, offers walk-in care for urgent and minor emergency situations. Additional walk-in care access points within the Saint Francis network include Convenient Care, located adjacent to the Medical Center’s Emergency and Trauma Center, and Immediate Convenient Care at 1702 N. Kingshighway.

“In addition to these primary care and urgent care partnerships, we are also building a strong hospitalist program at Saint Francis,” Bjelich explains. “These hospital-based physicians act as the link between primary care and specialty physicians, helping to ensure continuity of care and efficient communication across the care continuum.”