By John Carruthers, assistant editor, April 02, 2013
Santa Rosa, Calif., dermatologist Dale Westrom, MD, PhD, found himself focusing on the plight of patients with urgent dermatologic need who worked irregular hours in construction, food service, and other fields. Slots were occasionally available for urgent care patients, but many of them had trouble being able to lock down a specific day and time to receive much-needed consultation or treatment. By moving the end of his regular office hours up from 5 to 4 p.m. and converting that last hour into a walk-in clinic, he said, he is able to better extend his skills to underserved patients.
“There’s always a way that you can take care of patients with urgent problems.”
- Four times a week, Dr. Westrom spends the last hour of his day helping urgent care patients with issues that have often been neglected for a significant amount of time. “It’s really much more of a greet and treat’ than anything. You don’t get to spend a lot of time discussing things with the patient, but the visits can be a lifesaver,” he said.
- At the beginning of the clinic, Dr. Westrom said, four or five patients would typically show up during the clinic hour. As word spread, however, a steady stream of patients began coming to the practice. During one hour-long period, he saw 35 patients, an experience he’s not eager to repeat.
- “Some patients visit, say, their internist, and he sees a spot on them and recommends that they follow up with a dermatologist. They’re able to say, Redwood Empire Dermatology can take you today,’ which I feel is very beneficial to a lot of patients,” Dr. Westrom said.
- In addition to the clinic, Dr. Westrom also volunteers monthly with a branch of the Brighter Days program, an instructional series of lectures for cancer patients founded by dermatologist Donald Richey, MD, to help patients undergoing therapy deal with skin, hair, and nail issues.
- Dermatologists have a bigger role to play in cancer therapy, Dr. Westrom said, because new therapies have skin-related side effects. “It’s rewarding to be able to inform, reassure, and prepare patients for the changes that are going to happen.”
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