NiteOwl After Hours Urgent Care has added a mobile day service to its clinical offerings.
In June, the business expanded its nighttime brick-and-mortar business to include a clinic on wheels, DayOwl, that offers services ranging from house calls to at-school sports physicals.
Owner Eric Dunkel and family nurse practitioner Jonathan Sanchez said the new mobile service allows patients to save gas and meet with a medical professional from the comfort of a local location of their choosing.
"Independent living centers ... love us because we come on-site and see an 80-year-old that doesn't want to get out of their home, and then the other spectrum is young kids," Dunkel said in an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "So like, say you have kids in day care and you don't want to leave your work as a parent, we just go and see your kid in day care and you can stay at work."
Sanchez, who is fluent in English and Spanish, is usually the one making house calls for DayOwl. At the moment, the service has been receiving up to five calls a day.
"There's a variety of things we can do and where we can do it, pretty much. I mean, I could meet you at Panera if you wanted to," he said "I'm just doing everything right then and there, we're talking and as we're talking, I'm doing your vitals and whatnot."
While the mobile urgent care can sometimes arrive in about 30 minutes depending on demand, it is not meant to be a replacement to calling 911 in a medical emergency.
The daytime services are on a concierge basis, meaning users pay out of pocket for a visit, while the on-site brick-and-mortar nighttime services can be filed with insurance. A sick-visit appointment from DayOwl starts at $99, and the service occasionally offers coupons.
Both arms of the business provide services such as suturing, treating COVID-19, the flu and ear infections, and performing strep tests and sports physicals. The main difference in treatments offered is that those in need of an X-ray have to go to the in-person clinic.
"I feel like we're changing health care and in a positive way," Dunkel said. "I'm confident that the mobile urgent care is just the start of something really big, not just in this area but all over."
Sanchez said that working out of people's living rooms and similar spaces is obviously different than in an office, but most of the services remain the same.
"There's still a get-to-know-you phase," he said in the interview. "I'm walking into their home now, and it's still kind of a getting to know each other, the dogs. We have the walls come down. It's just a little different. Now, it's more me being a little bit more uncomfortable coming into your home versus you coming into my office.
"I think it's pretty close to equal. Just a little different dynamic."
Dunkel said the service only provides the mobile option during the day, for an extra level of comfort for patients and providers.
The feedback so far has been positive, Dunkel said. One day he was discussing the business with one of his friends who has a child with a chronic illness.
"I told him what we're doing, and he goes, 'You know how hard it is for me to get my son out of our house to a doctor's office? Like I would pay you guys $150 to come and do whatever checks that he gets at a doctor's office,'" Dunkel said. "So there's so much area for growth, and we're really trying to figure out where our niche is going to be."
The business, formerly known as PM Pediatrics, has operated in the area for 15 years. It used to be solely for juvenile patients but since the start of the pandemic has expanded its scope to include adults.
In addition to the new mobile services, the business is opening a second physical location in Ooltewah on Sept. 11.
NiteOwl is open 5-10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 3-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. DayOwl is available 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily in Hamilton County.
More information can be found at dayowlonthego.com and niteowlpediatrics.com.