By Lisa Shrewsberry
Flu doesn’t punch an ordinary time clock. Much to the dismay of sudden aching bodies and unexpectedly warm foreheads, viruses and all other manner of sickness tend to work swing and hoot owl shifts.
Dr. Stephen Love and Jim Boles, executive director of Love Family Practice, are offering a scheduling solution, one well-past the bedtime of most express care options and an alternative to pricey Emergency Room visits: extended hours that defy both Murphy’s Law and malady. Love Family Practice is now open on Friday nights until Saturday morning at noon. Patients may schedule, call ahead or walk in for treatment throughout the night. If no one shows by midnight on Fridays, explains Boles, the practice will close for the night. Their team is determining the best way to permanently extend hours based on area demand. So far, that demand has been compelling.
“In the very near future, we’ll be going to 24 hours,” Boles explains. Since their scheduling extension, Dr. Love has seen enough walk-ins to stay open until 2 a.m. some Friday nights. Even without advertising the changes, the practice has had weekends booked solid with patients who learned about it through word of mouth, and the after-hours schedule isn’t just for acute illnesses. “We have a lot of coal miners who are coming late on Fridays because of their work schedules,” Boles confirms.
The clinic has medications, intravenous fluids and the necessities to getting patients on track to feeling better when illness strikes unexpectedly, but isn’t necessarily worth a trip to the hospital. Love’s team can also evaluate non-emergent workplace accidents for night-shifters.
“At the ER, patients wait forever. Your condition is classified based on how urgent it is. If you are able to walk around, your wait might be six to even eight hours.” The cost of a single hospital visit is notoriously expensive. A single visit, claims Boles, can easily climb into the thousand-dollar range. “Here, you’ll get to feeling better and it may cost only $200 by comparison.”
Although a family practitioner, Love also has experience as an ER physician, offering an extra level of reliability to patients who show at midnight. “It’s the best of both worlds,” explains Boles. “We’re not out to steal patients. We will coordinate care with their regular physician for follow-ups. We’re simply out to provide a service to the community, because sickness doesn’t wait until the middle of the day to strike.”
Love Family Practice is located at 3157 Robert C. Byrd Drive, Beckley. The office may be reached at 304-253-9355.