When you need a doc STAT!

Steve Okhravi (right), a physician at Emergency Medical Care, and nurse director Stacey Schoenweiss review a patient’s blood work. Downtown Express photo by Janel Bladow

BY JANEL BLADOW  |  By eight in the morning, Dr. Steve Okhravi had already seen, treated and sent six patients on their merry way.

One, a five-year-old girl, whose elbow was accidently dislocated while getting ready for day care, came in screaming. She left smiling.

Another patient, an attorney doubled over in pain, had an important trial that morning and had to be in top form. Dr. Okhravi examined her, did blood work and filled a prescription.

“She was out of here in 20 minutes and so happy,” said the proud physician.

For most New Yorkers, time is money and time spent waiting at a hospital emergency room is not only painful but wasteful.  The staff at Emergency Medical Care (E.M.C., located on Chambers Street between Greenwich and West Streets) guarantees to get patients in to see a physician in 15 minutes. Walk-ins are welcome, and most insurance plans are accepted.

“People think we aren’t doing a lot of business, because our waiting room lobby is often empty,” said Okhravi, who founded the 24-7 emergency medical clinic. “We want to take the emergency room experience and make it efficient within a neighborhood practice.”

E.M.C. — a modern, well-lit facility — opened in late 2010 to fill a void created by the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital, leaving Lower Manhattan’s west side without a round-the-clock emergency room.

The six-room clinic can do blood work and electrocardiograms on the spot. Their 64-slice computed axial tomography (C.A.T.) scan is state-of-the-art and is used to stitch wounds and set bones. It has an after-hours mini-pharmacy.

The E.M.C. has shaved off the bureaucracy that results in an average wait of 290 minutes — close to five hours —  at a hospital, Okhravi said.

“We want to be a facility that accommodates people who don’t have time,” he said. “Their time is valuable to them.”

While walk-in clinics are not a new concept, he said, they’re fairly novel to New York City.

“The concept of urgent care is growing in Manhattan and everywhere in the country,” said Okhravi, who has spent the last 12 years working in New York and New Jersey hospital emergency rooms, where he logged more than 40,000 hours.

“We can do everything a hospital emergency room can,” he said, “And if we can’t, we have relationships with hospitals and specialists and can quickly get you the care you need.”

E.M.C. operates on a three-shift cycle with seven staff members per rotation, including a physician, a nurse and technicians. They can treat just about any emergency, Okhravi noted — from common colds to broken bones to heart attacks.

Patients’ blood work and paperwork are quickly processed, their medication is prescribed and follow-up consultations are made, including appointments with specialists.

“We’ve treated appendicitis and life-and-death situations such as heart attacks,” said Okhravi.

In one instance, he recalled, E.M.C. saw a patient with 100 percent artery blockage in his heart and arranged for the cardiologist to meet the ambulance at the hospital.

“We have an agreement with Beth Israel and, since all his work-up was already done here, he was taken directly to the floor, [bypassing the wait at the emergency room],” said the doctor.

E.M.C. is also developing ties with Downtown Hospital and other Manhattan-based medical facilities.

Stacey Schoenweiss, director of nursing at E.M.C., said the facility’s main concern is the patient. “We can spend the time and talk to them and calm them,” she said.

E.M.C. has plans to open a second walk-in clinic later this month at 521 West 42nd  St. near Times Square, that will have the same facilities and resources.

“Efficiency is the name of the game,” said Okhravi, noting that only four percent of people visiting an E.R. need to be admitted to the hospital.

“The rest is defensive medicine,” he said. “We make an emergency medical situation convenient and comfortable.”

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3 Responses to When you need a doc STAT!

  1. The EMT-Basic course uusally only lasts for a semester or so (about 3 months part time studies). I don’t think you even need a GED to get into the program, although it depends on which state you live in. EMT’s can perform basic medical exams and procedures, administer oxygen, and assist the patient with prescribed medications. It’s kind of an entry level position in the emergency medical career ladder.To become an EMT-Paramedic you uusally have to go to school for one to two years, and graduate with either a certificate (one year) or associate’s degree (two years). You uusally need a GED or high school diploma to get into the program (I only had a GED and had no problem getting accepted). The training is a lot more intense than the Basic course. The paramedic student will learn how to perform intubations, read a cardiac monitor, and administer up to 60 different drugs (depending on the service you work for). At my service, I make 50% more than a Basic makes. If you are considering making EMS your career, it might be a good idea to go to paramedic school. You get to do more for your patient, and make more money doing it, too!Hopes this helps!

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