Photo Gallery | Berkshire Medical Center's new Walk-in Care Center
WILLIAMSTOWN — North County residents with minor illnesses or injuries now have a new option for treatment.
Berkshire Health Systems on Monday opened a new Walk-In Care facility within the Williamstown Medical Associates building on Adams Road in Williamstown.
Similar to the walk-in facility BHS opened at Market 32 supermarket in Pittsfield last year, the North County BHS Walk-In Care office will have a nurse practitioner on staff to treat patients dealing with "minor situations."
The clinic will be open on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., serving patients 2 and older.
"With Williamstown Medical Associates, they are affiliated with Berkshire Health Systems, they had an established practiced there with some good volume and it just made sense that they had physical space off to the side that would be operating similar hours," said Dr. Ronald Hayden, medical director of the Satellite Emergency Facility and chairman of Emergency Medicine at Berkshire Medical Center.
The clinic will treat non-emergency ailments such as ear infections, sore throats, and other minor illnesses when a primary care doctor can't be seen soon enough. Emergency situations should still be treated at an emergency facility, Hayden noted.
Although Hayden said the walk-in clinic has been in the works for about a year and is "not reactionary to a loss of a primary care physician in that area," BHS acknowledges the severe shortage of primary care physicians in the Northern Berkshires.
The new facility will help address that shortage and alleviate some of the pressure on existing practices and hospital emergency departments, which are often utilized by patients in lieu of primary care.
For the patient, the cost of using the emergency room for non-emergency care can be more expensive, with co-pays often being higher than they would for similar treatment at a primary care facility.
With the help of Berkshire Health Systems last year, the federally qualified health center Community Health Programs took control of practices in North Adams and Adams in an effort to attract new physicians to the area.
The walk-in clinic will accept all insurances that are currently contracted with BHS and will have "affordable payment options," according to the announcement.
Sarah Kangas, a Williamstown resident who has a doctorate in nursing practice from the University of Massachusetts, will be the facility's nurse practitioner. She has formerly worked as a visiting nurse in Saratoga, N.Y., and as a nurse at Albany Medical Center in neurology and neurosurgery.
Kangas has "specialty experience in pediatrics, adolescent medicine and women's health," according to the statement from BHS.