The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

March 27, 2013

Eldon Clinic provides needed medical access

ELDON — The Eldon community no longer has to drive to Ottumwa or Fairfield for basic bumps and illnesses thanks to their 8-month-old walk-in clinic.

The Eldon Clinic, which opened on July 10, is an offshoot of the Fairfield Clinic.

Jolaine Coop, Fairfield Clinic nursing administrator, said while Fairfield does see a fairly large patient base from Eldon, the new clinic was also used as a recruiting tool. The Fairfield Clinic now has four physicians and two mid-level providers.

“Our office was already full, and we wanted to add physicians and extend hours,” she said.

After taking a tour of Eldon’s clinic facility, Dr. Mary Ann Zakutney, a former physician at the Fairfield Clinic with experience at satellite clinics, told the staff to go for it.

The building was originally erected in 2000 when Ottumwa Regional Health Center ran a clinic in Eldon, though it eventually closed 10 years later and stood empty until last summer.

“We had people in the first day saying they were glad to have the clinic back,” Coop said.

Eldon’s elderly population especially appreciates the consistency of knowing exactly when the clinic will be open, she said.

Staff had different options to choose from in operating the clinic. University of Iowa grants allow satellite clinics to operate using tele-medicine, as well as either a nurse or nurse practitioner. But Eldon is too small of an area for the grants to apply, so they had to look at other options.

Dr. Michael Poole, a provider out of the Keosauqua area, expressed interest in working at the Eldon Clinic, as did Eilene Swartz, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP).

The two alternate working Tuesdays and Fridays (the days the Eldon Clinic is open), but patients will always see one or the other. The clinic also has two staff members: receptionist Laura Carter and paramedic specialist Larry Huffman.

The clinic has three exam rooms, one of which can be used for minor surgeries and procedures, such as mole removal, toenail extraction and lacerations.

The clinic doesn’t offer all the services that the Fairfield Clinic does, but it does provide basic treatment.

“This is not an emergency walk-in clinic,” Coop said. “It’s for routine exams. Here we are full-service in-patient care, but we have very limited lab and no X-ray.”

Walk-ins are welcome, she said, but if a patient is looking for something specific (such as a very specific vaccine), it’s better to call ahead so staff have the proper forms and equipment in Eldon beforehand.

The Jefferson County Hospital Auxiliary Board also donated an AED (automated external defibrillator) to the clinic in case of an emergency.

“Anything we can’t do here, patients will be referred to the Fairfield office,” Coop said.

Right now, the Eldon Clinic has no plans to do anything different moving forward, she said, though at some point they may consider expanding their hours.

“We’ve had several people say they wish we were here all day or all day a couple of days, instead of just in the afternoons,” said Terri Prevett, Fairfield Clinic’s office business manager. “But continuity is the most important.”

Coop said they’re hesitant to expand hours if they’re not able to keep up, but since the clinic has not been overbooked or overflowing with patients, she doesn’t see hours changing anytime soon.

“A lot of our new patients have become regular patients,” Prevett said.

The Eldon Clinic will offer a flu clinic again this fall, as well as two nights for middle and high school athletes to get physicals done before sports practices begin this fall.

Patients can call the clinic’s number at any time, even when it isn’t open, because the call can be answered at the Fairfield Clinic.

Coop reminded the community, though, that if they have an emergency they should not visit the Eldon Clinic; they should instead call 911 or seek out the nearest emergency room.

Eldon Clinic information:

602 W. Elm St. in Eldon

Open 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays; appointments available from 1:30-4:30 p.m.

Limited walk-in appointments available

To schedule an appointment, call the Eldon Clinic at 641-652-0017 or the Fairfield Clinic at 641-472-4141

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