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New London Hospital plans walk-in clinic

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/14/2021 9:43:26 PM
Modified: 6/14/2021 9:43:30 PM

NEW LONDON — New London Hospital is converting two ambulatory suites for use as a walk-in clinic, the latest site in the Upper Valley to offer urgent care, which is less costly than an emergency room visit.

Colby-Sawyer College students, skiers and summer visitors who might not have primary care providers nearby — and who previously would drive to a larger town for urgent care when they got tick bites, cuts, sprained ankles or sinus infection — can “get that care here instead,” hospital CEO Tom Manion said Monday.

The new 2,400-square-foot clinic is aimed both at increasing patients’ access to treatment and also boosting the hospital’s bottom line, said Manion. 

Manion, who came to New London last year after establishing a similar clinic at his former employer, Porter Medical Center in Middlebury, Vt., said he anticipates New London Hospital will see up to 12% fewer visits to its emergency department as a result of the new clinic, but he expects an increase in the overall number of visits.

“At Porter, when I set this up, I used it as an employee,” said Manion. Manion said he was “able to go right over (and) get taken care of.”

The move makes New London Hospital, a member of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system, the latest health care provider in the Upper Valley to step into the urgent-care realm. It comes on the heels of the D-H system’s announcement earlier this year that it had launched a new virtual urgent care service in partnership with the Florida-based MDLIVE.

When business at the new walk-in clinic is slow, Manion said the providers there may log on to Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s virtual urgent care system and treat patients online, though priority will be given to people who come to the clinic in person. 

Officials are “striving (so) that we can do both,” he said.

The New London clinic will be priced above that at a primary clinic, but below that of an emergency department, Manion said. He noted that New London Hospital’s primary care practices do have same-day appointments available for acute needs, but they’re not open on weekends.

The new clinic is expected to be open seven days a week. Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Manion said the hours are designed to coordinate with local pharmacies’ hours in case patients need to pick up a prescription after their visit. 

It is slated to employ a maximum of seven people at a time, including up to two nurse practitioners or physician assistants, as well as three medical assistants and two administrators. The clinic will be overseen by the medical director of the hospital’s emergency room, which will continue to be open 24-hours a day. Should someone arrive at the walk-in clinic with a more serious need than the clinic can handle, they can easily be transferred to the emergency department, Manion said.

Elsewhere on the New Hampshire side of the Upper Valley, Valley Regional Hospital offers a walk-in clinic in Claremont, and Springfield (Vt.) Medical Care System has one in Charlestown. The for-profit ClearChoiceMD, which is based in New London, has a clinic on Miracle Mile in Lebanon and the Portsmouth, N.H.-based ConvenientMD, which is also for-profit, is slated to open a clinic on Route 12A in West Lebanon.

ConvenientMD, which in eight years has grown from one clinic to 30, announced in a news release last month that it had received investment through Boston-based Bain Capital Double Impact to allow the company to expand and in doing so “to make healthcare more affordable and accessible, and opening new locations in underserved areas.”

The company is poised to open another 50 clinics in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts in the next five years, the release said.

“In addition to growing their footprint, the investment will help ConvenientMD evolve from its urgent care roots into ongoing primary and value-based care,” according to the release.  

For-profit urgent care centers and non-profit critical access hospitals have at times come into conflict in some New Hampshire communities, such as in Littleton and Belmont, as the for-profits, which have fewer overhead costs and can turn away patients without the ability to pay, have established clinics nearby. 

But Manion said his hospital isn’t feeling that kind of threat. “We don’t really have anything close to us,” he said.

He said he expects the clinic to break even or a little better.

In addition to renovating the two suites, which had previously been used only periodically by visiting specialists, the hospital also is set to add a new sidewalk in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as four new parking spaces. The clinic is set to use an entrance off County Road in New London.

The New London Planning Board unanimously granted site plan approval for the project at its May 25 meeting.

Though he didn’t know exactly when the new clinic will open, Manion said, “It will be this summer.” 

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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