REGION — Steven Schutz has been preparing to bring his Urgent Care centers to the community his entire career.
In some ways, as the youngest of 12 children, this natural caregiver has been prepping his entire life.
With three facilities in North County, Schutz, the CEO of Carlsbad Urgent Care, is able to realize his dream of filling what he saw as a gap in the industry by offering the best possible care to patients who find themselves in need of immediate medical attention.
Schutz cultivated his vision over his years of practice beginning with his time in the Navy and Marine Corps.
Following his years of service, Schutz completed his undergrad and worked as a nurse in hospice and pediatric care. “I enjoyed that,” he said. “What I saw is that there are a lot of diseases out there, a lot that we can cure. But there are barriers to medicine.”
He credits the nurses he worked with during this time with showing him how important it is to be an advocate for patients. “I had the opportunity to work with really good, aggressive nurses who would fight for their patients,” he said. “It was great work.”
Next he finished his undergrad degree in Sports Medicine at Cal Poly Pomona and joined the Peace Corps.
After a stint in Zambia during a highly unstable time, Schutz left and returned to California and completed the PA program at the medical college of Philadelphia Hahnamann. “From there I came back to pediatric family practice,” Schutz said. “I really enjoyed it. But I started seeing a serious lack of basic medicine. I would have a patient call and say, ‘My child isn’t breathing.’ I would have to tell the young lady to go the ER where she would sit all night and when we got in at 8 a.m. we could see them. It was terrible medicine.”
This prompted him to research 24-hour medical care.
Schutz then studied business administration at Phoenix University. “I got an idea of how to set this up,” he said of his Urgent Care centers. I worked at various urgent cares and I learned what I liked and didn’t like.” In June 2007 he found a facility that would catapult his dream into reality. “I had the fortune of finding an office in Temecula that had an X-ray machine,” he said. “It was very large with 17 exam rooms and two surgical rooms. I made a deal to rent it with all the equipment.”
From there, Schutz and his family were all in. “At the time I had one child who was just turning 1 and by the time I rented it my wife was expecting our second child,” he said. “We took out the max line of credit and basically moved in there. Exam room 5 was our bedroom and exam room 4 was our nursery. My son Steven learned to walk there.”
Schutz wore many hats, or coats, during this time. “I stayed here 43 days straight,” he said. “My wife would visit. I would check people in wearing a green coat and then I would go put on the white coat to examine them.”
The Temecula facility has come far in the years since, and paved the way for Schutz ‘s Urgent Care Centers in Carlsbad and San Marcos. “I’m very proud of what we did in Temecula,” Schutz said. “When we first opened our average rate was $135 for patients without insurance. I said ‘I can do it for $75.’ We were able to really challenge the other physicians to step up and realize they could do this.”
Affordable, accessible and quality medical care have long been Schutz ‘s goals. “I’ve seen a 64-year-old woman with an upper arm fracture waiting for months for MediCare to set in,” he said. “Her shoulder was frozen. She didn’t have money for a visit.”
He told another story about a patient that ended in an unnecessary tragedy. “I had a gentleman with a hernia,” he said. “He waited to be seen, he couldn’t take time off work to be seen during office hours. He became septic and he passed away. That shouldn’t happen. A 42-year-old man with kids shouldn’t die of a hernia.”
It’s the countless stories like these that have fueled Schutz ‘s passion for patient advocacy. Part of that advocacy includes offering the very best, safest care possible.
A perfect example is the San Marcos facility, which Schutz had built and has amazing amenities such as its whole facility fan. “When there’s an Ebola breakout, patients will come to Urgent Care first,” he said.
“SARs, mumps, chicken pox, we need to be ready for anything just in case.”
The whole facility fan took years to design, and the basic idea is that the air within the facility can be evacuated within five minutes when necessary.
“If a patient comes in with chicken pox, we can send them in the room, turn on the air and have the whole facility cleared out quickly. We have it in the intake room, and outtake room. In every room. It saves our providers and keeps our patients and community safe.”
Other safety precautions include coping on the floor for sterilization and antibacterial carpets. “It’s a safe place, where you are not going to get sick,” Schutz said.
One area that Schutz feels is of the utmost importance for practicing good medicine is trust. He said the patients need to trust the providers, and the providers need to trust that the patients will follow their advice.
“Without that, quite frankly I can’t do medicine,” he said. “It’s about getting the patient what they need. And if they believe that we don’t care, we can’t give them good medicine.”
Visit Carlsbad Urgent Care at 2804 Roosevelt Street, Temecula 24 Hour Urgent Care at 41715 Winchester Road, Suite 101 and Carlsbad Urgent Care – San Marcos at 295 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road.
For more information, visit carlsbadurgentcare.com.