As Sansum Clinic struggled to keep its Lompoc urgent care open, LVMC’s Emergency Department felt the impact.
Paul Fry knows from experience of the importance in having an Urgent Care available to the community -- his new role as Lompoc Valley Medical Center's Director of Ambulatory Services can be traced back to his years working in the hospital Emergency Department as a Certified Physician Assistant.
“We all felt the pressure in the ER regarding the lack of an urgent care -- never knowing when it was going to break loose, but knowing that after 5 or 6 p.m every night we would be overwhelmed,” Fry recalls.
The decision by LVMC to acquire Sansum’s local practice was perfect timing, he says. It was also the appropriate time for him to transition from a clinical to a leadership role.
“Our leadership realized it had a great opportunity to get resources to the Sansum clinic,” he explains. “We could reopen the Urgent Care and enlarge our primary care footprint while also having the ability to take some of the pressure off of the emergency room. I’m still trying to serve the emergency room, but I’m doing it in a way that I can actually help more than I could while I was working in it.”
Fry, who is working on his Healthcare MBA, compares modern healthcare in America to a complex puzzle like a Rubik’s Cube.
“There are many of sides. If you look at it just right, it looks like it’s solved. But it’s not solved. You have to solve all sides. In healthcare, we can’t get away quick fixes. You have to manage the whole problem. That includes more than just access. It involves appropriate access points and cost control without overwhelming any provider or clinic. It involves patient experience but must be balanced with the appropriateness of the care decisions.”
Fry will be working with Sue Nooney and Lennaya Smith during the transition, to preserve the culture and advantages of Sansum Clinic. Both Sue and Lennaya have many years of experience working at Sansum’s Lompoc branch. Sue is the clinic director and Lennaya is the director of nursing.
In recent years, Sansum struggled with the loss of many quality physicians. Recent LVMC recruiting efforts resulted in six new primary care providers coming to town in the past few months.
“I believe we can focus on the merits of working professionally in Lompoc,” he says. “It’s a great community. There’s so much we can do here. You can get excited about coming to a place like this, to a medical community like this, to a patient base like this.”
Fry will be working to make sure the complex transition is seamless for patients while planning to expand hours of the Urgent Care.
“This community has been struggling by not having enough primary care, walk-in care or urgent care,” he says. “We see the evidence — it all spills into the emergency room. We are all fortunate that the hospital leadership saw this rare opportunity and acted quickly.”