It could be a pregnant woman who fears she's going into premature labor, or perhaps feverish from a urinary tract infection. It could be an ovarian cancer patient who's exhausted and dehydrated from the rigors of treatment.
Instead of going to the University of Mississippi Medical Center's Emergency Department, she has another option: The Women's Urgent Care Center at UMMC, which recently reopened on the ground floor of the Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants after being relocated for six months during a complete remodeling.
“No one else in the city has anything like this,” said Dr. James Shwayder, professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “This is the only dedicated women's urgent care in the region.”
The 5,921-square-foot center, which sees patients 24/7 with round-the-clock physician access, is now more patient-friendly, modern and private. “It was pretty much gutted,” Connie Richardson, UMMC's clinical director of nursing, said of the former space.
The patient population served by the center includes women seeking assistance with pregnancy-related urgencies or issues; gynecological issues such as bleeding or urinary complaints; post-partum complications from vaginal or cesarean delivery; and gynecological-oncology issues and post-surgical gynecological complications and complaints. All are treated by UMMC Women's Health physicians.
Meredith Worley, a registered nurse at the Women's Urgent Care Center, takes advantage of the center's newly designed work areas.
The new center is equipped to handle all obstetric and gynecological emergencies, and it's designed for efficiency and respect for patients' privacy, Shwayder said.
Among its features:
- Eight patient rooms with fetal monitoring capabilities, specialized OB/GYN stretchers, televisions and comfortable visitor seating
- Two patient exam rooms for less acute urgencies, also offering fetal monitoring
- A centrally located large physician work room where providers can maintain records at five computer stations
- A large clinical work room housing Point of Care testing instruments used in diagnosing common pregnancy related issues
- Immediate availability of ultrasound imaging
“Everything is updated, including floors and countertops,” Richardson said. The center is conveniently located across from UMMC's Parking Garage B.
The center is special in that it offers patients “access to our system very rapidly,” said Kim Meeker, administrator for Wiser Hospital and ancillary services. Two nurses staff the center around the clock, with a third added during peak times.
Although some patients arrive via ambulance, most are walk-in, Richardson said. If a patient's condition is life-threatening or outside the scope of care offered at the center, she will receive care from UMMC's adult Emergency Department, said Leslie Taylor, a shift supervisor at the center.
“Pregnant women in labor are sent to our labor and delivery floor,” Taylor said. “The obstetrician-gynecologists who staff this area are the same physicians who staff labor and delivery.”
Patients are referred to Women's Urgent Care not just by their UMMC doctors, but by providers from all over the region, Shwayder said. “Any time our patients require after-hours urgent care, we send them there because we know they will get consistent and comprehensive care,” Shwayder said.
In the cases of existing patients, “we can schedule follow-up appointments quickly with their UMMC OB-GYN,” Richardson said.
Meeker said patients experience the calming effects of a color scheme with neutral, warm tones. The waiting room's furniture is new and comfortable, she said. “The former area was outdated and not very customer friendly,” Meeker said. “We're trying to create a woman-friendly patient experience.”
“If you're dealing with any type of obstetric or gynecologic issue, then you're more comfortable in an environment that is strictly taking care of females,” Richardson said. “This center is specialized to your needs.”