Husband and Wife Team Open Urgent Care Center to Help Reduce Overcrowding in Local ER Departments

Innovative Medical Clinic Focuses on Transparent Pricing and Stellar Customer Service in Missouri

July 18, 2023

By Jennifer Walker

PA Elochukwu Osoego and his wife, NP Dara Osoego, opened the Innovative Medical Clinic in 2022.

PA Elochukwu Osoego, and his wife, NP Dara Osoego, had a long-term vision of opening a clinic in their hometown of Jefferson City, Missouri, by 2035. Then COVID-19 hit, and they saw a need to make their goal a reality more quickly than expected.

During the height of COVID, Osoego was working in the ER at Lake Regional Hospital in Osage Beach, Missouri. Here, he saw patients come in for IV medications to help with migraines or cuts that needed stitches or sprained ankles—ailments that were relatively minor compared to the level of sickness that many patients were facing at the time but that also required a higher level of care than might be available at all urgent care centers.

“There’s a lot of patients who go to the ER who don’t need to go to the ER,” Osoego says. “There’s got to be an in-between clinic, a clinic that can see patients who are sicker than what the primary care and urgent care centers can see, but not sick enough to go to the ER.”

In 2022, the Osoegos opened that clinic. Innovative Medical Clinic has the capabilities to perform bloodwork, administer IV fluids and medications, and provide a range of in-office procedures, as well as imaging services through Advanced Radiology and additional tests through Labcorp. They don’t currently take insurance, instead offering transparent pricing through a comprehensive list of fees for each service they provide. They also offer same-day appointments and often five-minute wait times.

By taking care of a population of patients at the clinic who might have traditionally gone to the ER, Osoego says, “Then we can reserve the ER for the true emergencies.”

A Road to Medicine  
Osoego grew up in Nigeria, Africa, where his grandfather was a healer who used herbs to treat abdominal pain, fevers, joint pain, nausea, and more. “As a child, seeing that impacted me. I wanted to do something similar to what he did,” he says.

Osoego planned to go to medical school, but the schools in Nigeria were extremely competitive and the selection process was often based on connections at the time, he says. “Ultimately my goal was to get to the U.S., so I wanted to go to a school that had more to offer,” he adds.

PA Elochukwu Osoego’s advice for other PAs who want to open a small medical business is to focus on providing the best customer service to patients.

In 2012, he graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in nuclear medicine technology from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, then spent the next three years working in the field at the same university. Nuclear medicine technologists inject small amounts of radioactive isotopes into patients to perform diagnostic tests that determine whether organs are functioning properly.

Through this work, Osoego encountered a PA who excited him about the profession. In 2014, Osoego and his mentor were working on a nuclear medicine study for a patient who had hydrocephalus, or excess cerebrospinal fluid that built up in the cavities of the brain. This patient had a shunt embedded in his skull so the excess fluid could drain to his abdomen, and the study would determine whether the shunt was still draining correctly. This time, the PA injected radioactive isotopes into the shunt, then Osoego took pictures as the isotopes mixed with the cerebrospinal fluid that was traveling between the brain and the abdomen.

“I thought she was a doctor,” Osoego says about this interaction. “When we had downtime, I asked her why she decided to become a neurosurgeon. She said, ‘I’m a neurosurgical PA,’ and I said, ‘What’s the difference?’ That’s when I became aware of the PA profession.”

In 2016, Osoego, who was impressed with the knowledge and autonomy that PAs have, became part of the first class of 20 students in the then-new PA program at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. He joined Lake Regional Hospital after graduation; later he also spent time teaching as a guest lecturer then an associate professor at Stephens College.

It was in 2022 that Osoego changed course, founding Innovative Medical Clinic to help bridge the gap between urgent care centers and emergency rooms.

Providing High-Level Urgent Care Services   
In the years since COVID, ERs have had periods of overcrowding, and they continue to be short staffed. A group of medical organizations—including the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Medical Association—sent President Biden a letter last year warning that hospital emergency departments were at their “breaking point.” One of the solutions to these challenges might be urgent care centers, which have seen a 60 percent increase in patient volume since 2019. When these facilities are close by hospitals, ER visits decrease by 17 percent, according to the Urgent Care Association.

This was one of the Osoegos’ goals in opening Innovative Medical Clinic. But the facility also offers more services than some traditional urgent care centers, Osoego says. This is possible, he adds, because of his and Dara’s combined experience in cardiology, emergency medicine, hospitalist medicine, neurology, and urgent care. “With all of this experience we’ve had, there’s hardly any patients that we cannot figure out how to treat,” he says.

PA Elochukwu Osoego and NP Dara Osoego focus on transparent pricing by providing a menu of sorts with prices for each service they offer.

A key feature of the clinic is its transparent pricing. “Patients come in, we see them, they pay a fee, and that’s it,” says Osoego, adding that they also work with a collaborating physician and a back-up physician. “They know exactly how much their visit will be, and there’s no surprise bill that comes to them three months later.”

Prices for each service are listed on the clinic’s website. Patient visits range from $85 to $160 depending on the complexity of the case. Nine lab tests can be performed in the office, including a rapid stress test ($16) and a complete metabolic panel ($25). There are 42 tests listed on the website that are sent to an outside lab, including Hemoglobin A1C ($10), an iron panel ($10), and a Vitamin D test ($20), as well as about 100 additional tests offered through the clinic’s partnership with Labcorp. There are 38 office procedures—which range from treatment for a lower-extremity, non-fracture injury ($75) to foreign body removal in the ear or nose ($200) to vaccine administration ($20 flat)—as well as hydration and vitamin infusion services ($110 and up).

Along with providing care, the Osoegos are also small business owners. To get their clinic off the ground, they spent many hours researching the process, then worked with a lawyer who helped them formulate their operating agreement. They also connected with their local Small Business Development Center—a resource that is available in every state—which helped them write their business plan and pitch their idea to banks to get a loan.

After opening, it took a few months to build a patient base. But today, the Osoegos see five to 10 patients a day, a number that allows them time to figure out the best plan of action for each patient’s care. Securing contracts to provide care at other facilities has also been a key aspect of their growth. The Osoegos currently have a contract with a small rural health clinic in Bartnett, Missouri, and are awaiting an official contract from Lincoln University, where they have already started seeing patients at the Thompkins Health Center.

Recently, the Osoegos were recognized for the vital services they provide to the community when they received the 2023 Juneteenth-Jefferson City Rising Star Award for their excellence in innovation and startup entrepreneurship.

For other PAs who want to open their own clinic, Osoego says the best way to grow is by continually providing the best care and customer service to patients. They work in partnership with patients in formulating treatment plans, and they call patients with test results within hours of receiving them.

“Now, some of our patients who have insurance, they want to come here because of how thorough we are and how compassionate we are,” Osoego says. “We make sure patients are happy and that we go above and beyond for our customer. That’s what we do.”

Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer in Baltimore, MD. Contact Jennifer at [email protected].

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