By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Do you miss having a medical clinic in Colfax?
Do you believe Colfax needs a clinic?
What would you like to see for services if a new medical clinic were to locate in Colfax?
Representatives for Marshfield Clinic will be holding a public forum Monday, October 24, at the Viking Bowl and Lounge in Colfax to find out what you think about having a clinic in town again.
“We want to have a public forum for people to voice their opinion about not having a clinic and possibly having Marshfield here. Right now Marshfield is in the research phase to decide, so this will be very important to have people come to the forum,” said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.
The meetings on October 24 will be at 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
A representative from Marshfield will be there to “give a bit of an idea of where they are at and then open it up for discussion,” Niggemann said.
The forum will include free blood pressure screening and free flu shots for ages 13 and up from 3:30 to 6:30.
The forum also will include a free meal, prizes and raffles.
Tickets for prizes will be drawn at each session to give people who attend either session an opportunity to be included, Niggemann said.
“It is important for people to emphasize the kind of services they want so when Marshfield is doing their research they can identify what type of services they want to offer,” she said.
The forum is for “anyone who would be using the clinic. Anyone who feels it is important to have a clinic in Colfax. Anybody who has kids in school here. Anybody and everybody,” Niggemann said.
A clinic in Colfax is important for the school district and for students in the district, she said.
If a child is having some symptoms, or needs a regular checkup, and there is a clinic here in Colfax and parents do not have to drive a half an hour or 45 minutes, it means the child will be in school longer instead of having to take a half a day off or a day off for an appointment elsewhere, Niggemann said.
A clinic in Colfax also is important for workers compensation issues.
“If anybody locally has a minor injury, and they need to get checked out for that purpose, a clinic in Colfax would be useful,” Niggemann said.
The question of what hours a clinic should be open in Colfax is an issue Marshfield Clinic is carefully considering.
“Would people be happy with three days a week, or would they want someone full time or half days? They are still trying to get a feel for that, even though we provided survey numbers to them,” Niggemann said.
On the other hand, “they think it is important to be open five days a week. They don’t want someone to go to the clinic and then find that the clinic is not open (when they need it),” she said.
Last summer, the Village of Colfax sent out surveys to are residents who would be likely to use a clinic in Colfax.
Of those who responded to the survey question asking about part-time hours for the clinic, 123 said they would prefer mornings (8 a.m. to noon); 79 people said afternoon (noon to 4 p.m.); and 70 said 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
In response to a question on the survey asking about what kinds of services people would want a health-care provider to offer in Colfax, out of those who responded, 147 said they wanted blood work; 144 wanted routine care; 104 wanted x-rays; 67 wanted physicals; 4 wanted nail care; 39 said any medical issue; 13 said family medicine; 7 said blood pressure; 21 said emergencies; 2 said ultrasounds; 4 said mammograms; 4 wanted flu shots to be available; 1 person said a cardiologist; 2 said allergies; 6 said pediatrics; 2 wanted orthopedics; 2 said same-day appointments; 1 respondent said an MRI; and 10 wanted prescription renewals.
In addition to conducting research to find out if it is feasible for Marshfield to open a clinic in Colfax, Marshfield also is working on trying to find staff for a clinic in Colfax.
“In the end, that will be a determining factor also,” Niggemann said.
Marshfield would like to know, too, what people found disappointing about the Mayo Clinic in Colfax, such as not providing a service that they had hoped would be provided, Niggemann said.
“If someone went for blood work, for example, (the clinic in Colfax) would send that person to Bloomer or Menomonie. That’s an important thing to have (at a clinic in Colfax) is blood draw,” Niggemann said.
Traveling mammogram or MRI units also might be an important component for a clinic in Colfax.
Sometimes people can have difficulty taking as much time off from work as they would need to drive to a clinic that is farther away, Niggemann noted.
“You have work. You have school. And then you need to try to coordinate travel time to get something checked out at a clinic,” she said.
The Colfax Rescue Squad also is logging more transports since the Mayo Clinic closed in July.
“Instead of going to the clinic to get checked out, people are waiting, and then they have to be transported to the hospital,” Niggemann said.
“The numbers are showing this to be true,” she said.
During the annual meeting of the Colfax Rescue Squad at the end of August, Don Knutson, director of the rescue squad, said since the clinic in Colfax had closed July 1, he was noticing more calls for transports to the hospital.
At the time, Knutson said he was not sure if it was a trend or if it was a temporary increase.
“The numbers are still up. They are still seeing more transports,” Niggemann said.
Back in August, Knutson speculated that people probably felt like they could drive themselves to the clinic when it was here in town, but with no clinic here, they do not feel they are up to driving a half hour or more, so they wait until it gets to the point where they need to go to the hospital, and then they need the ambulance.
Niggemann says she hopes an existing clinic building in Colfax also will make it more attractive for Marshfield to consider locating in Colfax.
“We are hoping it is a good turnout. The bowling alley is excited to have the event there,” she said.
While the public informational meetings and discussions on Monday, October 24, are scheduled at 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Viking Bowl and Lounge (N8590 State Road 40), Niggemann said each session is expected to last about an hour.
“The importance of people being at the forum is going to be huge,” she said.