Denver Health’s urgent care helps patients lower bills |

Denver Health’s urgent care helps patients lower bills

The Winter Park Medical Center, which began offering urgent care last year, is seeing locals and visitors take advantage of the service.
Courtesy Denver Health

Whether its visitors who sprained an ankle on the mountain or a local with strep throat, Denver Health’s Winter Park Medical Center is working to lower health care costs for patients through its urgent care services.

Since beginning to offer urgent care services at the clinic and emergency room at the base of Winter Park Resort almost a year ago, doctors at the medical center say, on average, they expect to treat 10-15 patients a day.

“We are the only actual urgent care at this end of the valley, so we’re getting a lot of those types of patients,” said Dr. Richard Bortz, medical director for Winter Park Medical Center. 

Middle Park Health’s Winter Park location offers urgent care services on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Bortz explained urgent care as a kind of middle ground health care for patients, where the illness or injury doesn’t need immediate care but should be addressed within a day or two.

According to data from Denver Health, some of the top reasons patients utilize urgent care is for respiratory infections, such as the common cold, flu, bronchitis and strep throat, as well as issues with altitude and wrist injuries.

“No surprise lung infections are coming out on top because those are generally urgent, not emergent,” Bortz said. “We see people from all over the world.”

The medical center began offering urgent care services for several reasons, but a main factor was the resort’s desire to offer urgent care to its guests and employees. 

Dr. Darcy Selenke, a primary care physician at the medical center, explained that urgent care not only differs from emergency departments in the type of care they provide, but also can typically provide care at lower costs than emergency departments charge.

“Some insurances, if you go to a clinic, will say that clinic is out of network, but they will cover an urgent care co-pay,” Selenke said. “By billing it as urgent care, not same-day clinic, people can pay a co-pay… It’s not uncommon for people to ask to be urgent care, instead of making an appointment.”

The lower cost care allows resort employees to take advantage of the urgent care services, as well as helps traveling guests whose insurance won’t cover out of network clinic costs or have high deductibles.

As the biggest safety net hospital in Colorado, Denver Health also works with uninsured or underinsured patients to get the care they need regardless of cost, Selenke said. 

She added that patients who visit the Winter Park Medical Center are automatically enrolled in the Denver Health system, so if further care is needed, patients can access it at other hospitals.

The medical center offers dedicated parking right next to its location and is open seven days a week and on holidays.

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