IF YOU GO
What: New urgent care clinic
Where: Hutcheson on the Parkway, 4700 Battlefield Parkway, Suite 150
When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. No appointment necessary.
Dr. Sandra Carmichael is sleeping better these days.
After 25 years of mainly working the night shift as an emergency room doctor at Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe, Carmichael got a new job two weeks ago. She runs Hutcheson's new urgent care clinic on Battlefield Parkway near Interstate 75.
Carmichael is getting used to daylight. And sunshine. And sleeping nights -- without the blackout curtains, earplugs and white noise machine she needed to sleep during the day.
"This has been very pleasant," Carmichael said Wednesday as she pointed out a wetland behind her office that's home to goslings, herons and other birds she sees during walks to rack up 10,000 steps a day on her pedometer.
Carmichael and Hutcheson officials hope patients flock to the new urgent care clinic.
It should provide quicker service than a hospital's emergency room, they say, and it's closer to Ringgold and Dalton residents than Hutcheson's main ER in Fort Oglethorpe.
"Sometimes, the ERs are busy, and you don't want to sit there," Carmichael said. "All the big downtown hospitals have delays at one time or another."
The new urgent care clinic will focus on illnesses that are not life-threatening, such as cuts that require stitches, upper respiratory infections, sprains and small broken bones.
"If it's something major, I'm going to ship you over to the ER," Carmichael said. It's about a five-minute ambulance ride from the urgent care clinic to Hutcheson's ER, she said.
Another advantage urgent care has over an ER is it costs less, Registered Nurse Michelle Chandler said.
"The ER is billed differently," she said.
Other services offered at the new clinic include pre-employment physicals, drug screenings and workers' compensation evaluations.
The clinic's registered nurses have emergency room experience, Carmichael said. Hutcheson plans to employ two more doctors in the clinic and eventually expects to see 40 to 50 patients a day.
The clinic had a "soft," unadvertised opening two weeks ago. Hutcheson plans to put up signs soon at the clinic, which is on the west side of its Hutcheson on the Parkway facility.
"We've gotten a great response," office manager Becky Smith said. "We had 11 [patients Tuesday] with no advertising."
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.