Kimberly Sheets, M.D., is the medical director of the Patient First centers in Allentown and Bethlehem. She has been with Patient First since 2012, and has been practicing medicine in the Lehigh Valley since 2000.
Patient First provides urgent care on a walk-in basis from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day of the year. Each of its medical centers has on-site services such as x-rays, lab tests and prescription drugs. Patient First was founded in 1981 and has been in the Lehigh Valley since 2012. There are three Patient First centers in the Lehigh Valley: Allentown, Bethlehem and Kimberly Sheets, M.D. – Kimberly Sheets, M.D. – Easton.
LVB: How are urgent care centers changing the way modern health care is delivered?
Sheets: There is a general focus in health care toward convenience and cost-savings. Urgent care centers like Patient First align nicely with those goals, offering extended hours, a wide range of on-site services, and walk-in access. We serve as a convenient, cost-effective alternative to the emergency room for non-life-threatening conditions.
Many of the conditions routinely treated at hospital emergency rooms are treated at Patient First at a fraction of the cost and much more quickly. Though many of our patients receive complete care at Patient First without requiring additional follow-up, if necessary, we will refer patients requiring additional care to specialists or to hospital emergency rooms, as appropriate.
Additionally, we are open extended evening, weekend, and holiday hours – times when a traditional doctor’s office is typically closed. We also have many on-site services not often found in a traditional doctor’s office like x-rays, lab tests, EKGs, and prescription drugs.
LVB: What role do you see urgent care centers playing in a person’s or family’s overall health?
Sheets: Urgent care’s primary role is providing convenient, cost-effective care. We make it easier for patients who are sick or hurt to get the care they need.
We have always made it a point to work collaboratively with other health care delivery sites: primary care physicians, specialists and hospital systems. For example, if a patient wishes us to do so, we will forward a copy of the visit record to his or her primary care physician. We continue the collaborative approach as health care evolves and new collaborative models take shape.
LVB: Does technology play a role in how you are able to assist patient care?
Sheets: Technology touches every step of the patient journey, from before the visit to after it. We post provider schedules on our website so patients can find out when their preferred provider is working. Patients sign in and are registered electronically. We have had electronic medical records since we first opened in 1981. We have a wide array of on-site services, such as digital x-rays, a CLIA-approved laboratory, EKGs, nebulizer treatments, and on-site prescriptions. And if we do not stock the prescription a patient is prescribed, we will electronically transmit the prescription to the patient’s pharmacy of choice. After the visit, patients can log onto our Patient Portal to view their visit history and to review their lab results as soon as they become available.
LVB: Where do you see the urgent care industry headed in the future?
Sheets: I can only speak for Patient First. I predict more of what we have been doing for the last 38 years. That is, providing convenient and friendly care to our patients, and working collaboratively with the other components of the health care landscape: primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals and health systems, insurance companies, employers, and of course our patients.
– By Stacy Wescoe