'We're Ready To See People': New Urgent Care Center Opens In Orleans

By: Ryan Bray

Topics: Health , Orleans news , Cape Cod Healthcare

CAPTION: Cape Cod Healthcare's new urgent care center opened its doors Saturday at 42 Route 6A in Orleans. The center will offer urgent care services seasonally from May through Columbus Day. Year-round primary care will be offered at the center starting later this year. ALAN POLLOCK PHOTO

ORLEANS – Lower and Outer Cape residents now have an urgent care option closer to home.

On Saturday, Cape Cod Healthcare opened the doors of its newest urgent care center at 42 Route 6A in Orleans. The new center, located at the site of the former Lobster Claw restaurant, is the provider's sixth urgent care facility, joining others in Falmouth, Sandwich, Hyannis, Harwich and Osterville.

Two days before its opening to the public, workers busied themselves setting up computers, situating furniture and doing other last minute preparations for the Orleans location.

"It's been a big push," Joseph Camelio, executive director of urgent care services for Cape Cod Healthcare, said of getting the new center up and running. "A lot of hard work by a lot of people, but it's been great."

Ground broke in December on the new 6,500-square-foot center, which will be open seasonally for urgent care services. The center will also offer year-round primary care services starting later this year.

Residents with insurance can drop in without referrals for treatment seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. The plan for now is for urgent care to be open from May through Columbus Day, but Camelio said services could be extended later into the fall if needed.

"We're going to see what the volume is, see what the demand is," he said. "This is obviously a de novo new site, so we want to see how things play out."

Camelio described urgent care as a middle ground between primary care and emergency room services, giving patients in the provider's network more flexibility in where to receive medical treatment.

"Maybe you call your primary care doctor and they say we can see you in two weeks," he said. "People don't want to wait two weeks. They want to be seen and have things dealt with today. That's where we come in."

Services will include rapid COVID-19 testing and PCR swabs, X-rays, IV fluid administration and other basic testing and services.

"You'd come here for your sore throats, coughs, X-rays," Camelio said. "We can take care of lacerations, sprains and strains. Broken bones, we can splint those."

The Orleans facility includes a total of 12 examination rooms (six for urgent care and six for primary care), as well as an X-ray room, nursing stations, office space and waiting areas.

The center also will be staffed daily by a doctor, two receptionists, two nurses, an urgent care technician and a radiology tech. There also will be nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants on hand to assist the doctor on duty. A group of emergency room doctors from Cape Cod Hospital will rotate in staffing the Orleans center each day, Camelio said.

"We work really hard on recruitment," Camelio said. "A lot of people have a desire to work for us, because we have a good reputation. It's a fun place to work, and we have a really good quality of product. People want to be a part of that."

Given the need for urgent care services on the Lower and Outer Cape, Camelio said Orleans was "a logical spot to land" in siting a new facility. While it can take time for demand to escalate at new centers, Camelio said with summer in full swing, he anticipates a quick ramp-up in Orleans, where staff could see an estimated 100 patients per day.

It remains to be seen how the new center will impact public safety operations in Orleans, especially for the town's fire department. Fire Chief Geof Deering told the town's select board last month that the center could add about 200 more runs for his department, an estimate he based on how urgent care centers have impacted call volumes for other Cape departments.

But Camelio is hopeful that the new center will make transports easier for firefighters and paramedics. He said on average only 4 to 5 percent of urgent care patients in other facilities require transport to Cape Cod Hospital.

Cape Cod Healthcare also has an online feature that lets people know what wait times are in real time at each of its urgent care centers. While Camelio said he expects the Orleans center to be plenty busy, wait times will be "exponentially lower" than those at the emergency room at Cape Cod Hospital, especially for patients seeking non-emergent care.

"We're ready to see people," he said. "When we press play, we're ready. Urgent care is urgent care. We can do it in Hyannis, we do it at Stoneman [in Sandwich] and we can do it here."

Email Ryan Bray at ryan@capecodchronicle.com