New “walk-in” health-care service open

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Poised to give a flu shot, Tracy Slocum, a licensed practical nurse at Workfit Medical, knows the value of preventative care.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Checking a heartbeat: Elaine Lombardi Wilk, doctor of osteopathy, listens with her stethoscope to the heartbeat of Robert Ungehcuer, physician’s assistant. Both are employed at Workfit Medical at 1971 Western Ave. in Guilderland.

GUILDERLAND — What if your primary doctor is out of reach?

What if the hospital is overcrowded?

What if you don’t have a doctor or any health insurance at all?

WorkFit Medical, an occupational health service now located in Guilderland, may have the right remedy.

Matt Huntington, the director of operations for WorkFit, said that opening the business in the Albany area would “revitalize” health care in the region. “It’s fast, convenient care, and you can walk right in,” he said. “People don’t want to wait eight hours for treatment.”

Occupational health refers to the classification and control of dangers arising from physical, chemical, and other workplace risks in order to establish and sustain a safe and healthy work atmosphere.

Huntington says that a large part of WorkFit’s business is providing physician services for leading employers in the area. Physicians from the practice often visit employers on site, he said, to secure strong relationships, and to make sure the employer can get the most affordable health plan possible for its workers.

“We’ve done extensive work with fire companies,” said Huntington. “We deal with a lot of workers’ compensation patients; not many places will take them.”

WorkFit does not try to compete with primary care. Huntington sees WorkFit as a complementary service to hospitals and primary doctors.

“It’s a different perspective of the appropriate levels of care,” said Huntington. “It’s a way to help decompress the emergency-room setting. It’s a place that isn’t over-packed.”

The 1971 Western Ave. location used to be inhabited by Concentra, an urgent-care facility, but WorkFit Medical bought Concentra’s physical assets in September. WorkFit, founded by C. Jay Ellie, Jr., M.D. a decade ago, started as an emergency-room staffing agency, and eventually grew into a freestanding occupational health center.

WorkFit is based in Rochester, but Huntington thought that expansion to the Albany market was important.

“This is our first step outside of the Rochester area,” said Huntington. “I see Albany as a high- demand area, a place for real growth.”

WorkFit accepts all major insurances and some minor ones, and will also work with patients who don’t have any insurance. The price for a visit is comparable to a primary doctor appointment, Huntington said, but significantly lower than an emergency-room visit.

What sets WorkFit apart is its extended hours of operation. WorkFit is open on all holidays, 365 days a year, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Also, Huntington believes that the walk-in, no-appointment approach is unique.

“That’s huge,” he said. “You’ll be sitting for hours anywhere else. The waiting time is minimal.”

WorkFit has five physicians and five physician assistants on staff. Elaine Lombardi Wilk, a board-certified emergency-room physician, runs the operation. There’s an X-ray lab on site, and the staff can treat eye problems, broken bones, and other minor injuries.

Physicals, flu shots, and drug tests are popular at WorkFit, Huntington says. “Mostly, it’s coughs, colds, and people being sick after-hours,” he said. “If you have chest pains, please call 9-1-1, or if you have a major head injury, please go to the hospital.”

There’s also an in-house physical therapist at WorkFit.

Huntington hopes people will see his company first if they’re sick.

“We’re a stand-out in occupational medicine,” he said.

Even though WorkFit has been operating since the end of September, a first-quarter grand opening is planned for 2014, Huntington said. He’s not a policy maker, but he expects an increase in business as a result of the new Affordable Care Act; more people will have insurance, he said.

“I think health care will move more towards an outpatient setting,” Huntington said. “More decisions with money will be allocated, and people will be looking for more appropriate levels of care. We’re looking to be a resource.”

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