By: Lissette Campos, Enterprise Communications
The notes are in different sizes and colors. Some are on sticky notes. And then there are the stick people drawings that look like they came from kids. This is what an outpouring of thanks from patients looks like. This is GuideWell Emergency Doctors.
This week, the innovative medical practice expanded from Central Florida into the Tampa Bay region, opening its doors at 4748 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. It’s the first of six coming to Hillsborough and Pinellas counties this year and promises no shortage of inspiring patient stories. The model combines the diagnostic capabilities, technology and emergency medicine team of a hospital ER with the convenience and lower cost of an urgent care.
“It’s a very unique model. I would love to say it’s just like something else, but there’s nothing you can really compare it to,” says Dr. Nicholas Dodaro, medical director of GuideWell Emergency Doctors and the chief medical officer of Crucial Care, which operates the facilities started in Central Florida in 2014.
The West Tampa location is centrally located and near Raymond James Stadium and the New York Yankees’ spring training stadium. The medical facility’s opening Monday ushers in a new era of emergency medicine in the region. Three locations in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties have been selected for expansion. The sites are in zip codes with higher rates of hospital emergency room visits.
GuideWell Emergency Doctors will help save thousands of unnecessary hospital ER visits by treating the bulk of chronic medical conditions and urgent needs that land most people in the ER but don’t require hospital admission.
It’s a model of emergency medicine that’s worked for more than 168,000 patients in Central Florida. Teams led by board-certified emergency medicine doctors have saved tens of thousands of hospital admissions in Orlando, Ocoee and Winter Park. And they can treat patients in half the time of a hospital ER visit and at one-third the cost.
The majority of patients treated by the Crucial Care staff came in with upper respiratory problems, chest pain and cardiac-related concerns. In 2020, GuideWell Emergency Doctors treated more than 47,000 patients. Among the most-treated conditions were urinary tract infections, stomach pain and headaches.
Patients don’t just get treated for the emergency, they get help scheduling follow-up visits with their primary care doctor or specialists they’ll need to see next.
In its first 24 hours in Tampa Bay, the medical facility had already received its first “five-stars” from a patient at the center operated by Crucial Care. Speaking to local residents on the local ABC station from the West Tampa facility, Dr. Cynthia Webb told viewers why this is the first of its kind in the region and what it means to patients.
“I’ve worked in emergency medicine for more than 25 years and I can tell you I wouldn’t want to do medicine any other way,” said Webb, a board-certified emergency medicine doctor and part of the Tampa Bay region team of GuideWell Emergency Doctors.
It’s no wonder the medical teams have no shortage of patient letters and thank you notes and emails. One patient writing GuideWell Emergency Doctors in amazement said, “I received a phone call from GuideWell on my status. I have never received a call from any other clinic. How awesome!”
Another patient wrote in to say, “Every day of my life will be better because of all of you!” The exclamation mark proudly punctuating the handwritten card.
The high level of technology on-site is not generally available at an urgent care, so patients are evaluated extensively and quickly on-site. When necessary, patients are directly admitted to local hospitals from the facility and bypass the hospital ER.
In one of the more striking patient notes received, the patient shared, “I am alive and very well, and I believe that you were the key reason for that. I thank you from my heart for your diligence and care.”