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A new emergency care clinic opens and spells relief for area hospitals
BY JANEL BLADOW | Break a bone? Have a cut that needs stitches? Feel short of breath or achy and flu-like or have some other non-life threatening injury? Need to see a doctor but don’t have a primary physician or specialist? Or you just hate hospitals and especially dislike sitting in an emergency room for hours before your name is called?
Now there’s an alternative to overcrowded and noisy hospital emergency rooms when you need a doctor STAT.
Medhattan is a full-service urgent care facility in Lower Manhattan that offers New Yorkers of all ages a clean, inviting and calm setting to see a top doctor quickly.
“We’re the only alternative emergency care facility on west side and downtown aside from NY Downtown Hospital,” says founder Leslie Miller, MD, a Harvard graduate who did her Emergency Medical Residency at Albert Einstein School of Medicine and has been director of some of the city’s best emergency rooms.
“We chose to open here because there wasn’t any real doctor-care place on the Westside downtown. With St. Vincent’s gone, this area was medically underserved. Concept is to keep people out of emergency room. We wanted to give back to this area which experienced such devastation and be part of its rebirth and emergence.”
What she and her partner, co-founder Alicia Salzer, MD, Medhattan’s Psychiatric-Wellness consultant who has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell Medical College, have come up with is fresh take on medical emergencies here in New York City.
While the doc in a box, the strip mall medical service station, is not new to other parts of the country, especially in Florida and California, this boutique-style acute care shop is new for Manhattan. Only a handful of emergency care clinics are scattered around the city.
“Hospitals don’t see us as a threat, more as a relief, less burdened,” continues Dr. Salzer. “Sixty-percent of cases in emergency rooms are not urgent. The urgent care clinic is a trend.”
Medhattan is staffed by a rotating team of 15 physicians who work in hospital emergency rooms around the city. And Dr. Miller points out that they enjoy being able to spend more, quality time with each patient, unlike the hurried pace of a busy ER.
“The wait in a typical emergency room is four to six hours,” says Dr. Salzer. “Cut on your hand is a big deal to you but when there are people in ER with gunshot wounds, you aren’t the priority. Still, we’re seeing some pretty serious stuff.”
Open only a month ago, the clinic has seen serious injuries from falls, flu symptoms, infections, skin rashes, and administered flu shots, stitched and bandages wounds, and even did a Cat scan for a woman who had an ovarian mass.
The clinic has already seen more than 100 patients and is below street level on Liberty Street, just west of Church Street. Visitors enter a softly lit reception area filled with orchids, fresh cut flowers and warmth. The walls are painted deep lavender and covered with bright paintings.
Picking their style up from hotel and spa industries makes a difference with people. Instead of being given a cold, demeaning paper gown with open backside, each patient is given a soft, white terrycloth spa robe with a back flap that opens so the doctor can easily and discreetly do lung and heart exams.
Exam rooms are painted calm, charcoal with stone accents and dark tile floors. Oversized nature photos give nervous patients serene visual focal point. Dr. Salzer, who proudly oversaw all the renovations, hopes to amass a big enough collection to change up the pieces with the seasons.
With the look of an upscale spa, Medhattan even offers alternative care services. In the peaceful massage room a certified therapist performs medical massages on Thursdays and a nutritional coach is on staff to help patients get on a healthier eating track, especially important for patients with diabetes or hypertension. And for patients averse to taking pills or medication, the clinic offers alternatives for pain management.
The eye exam room is equipped to handle emergencies such as ailments, infections and objects or particles in the eye. There’s even a kid’s exam room, complete with butterflies and other fun things on the walls and ceiling, where nervous children are given DVDs to watch and a giant butterfly to hold.
All medical work-ups are done on site. The clinic is capable of administering IVs, setting bones and doing sutures. X-rays are taken and digitized then sent to their doctor via email, and common lab work is analyzed on the spot.
Every patient goes home with a flash drive which has his or her complete records including X-rays and lab results. They can take them to their follow up doctor’s appointment or plug into their computers at home.
“It’s convenient and time-saving,” says Dr. Salzer, a big plus for busy New Yorkers.
Patients have ranged from guests referred by hotel concierges and Financial District workers from out of town to downtown residents from Battery Park City and the Village and Chelsea. Drop-ins are welcome.
Medhattan has already developed an extensive referral network of specialists and primary care doctors. They make the follow-up appointment for you and can often get you in faster than if you schedule a visit yourself. Every patient is called afterward for a progress report.
Hours are 9 am – 9 pm weekdays and weekends 9am – 6 pm, 365 days a week. (855 STATMDs or 855 782-8737)
A basic office visit costs $200, less than half of an ER hospital stop. All their prices are listed on their website (www.medhattan.com) where patients can go, pre-register and make an appointment. They take several insurance plans and soon will accept Medicare.