Transparent. Trustworthy. True.
“We like to think of ourselves as the good guys of emergency medicine,” says Dr. Mark Im of Sacred Heart Emergency Center (EC). “We order what is medically necessary and what we believe will make a difference in the treatment plan. If we don’t think it will change our management, we won’t order the test or exam.”
Minimizing Cost. Maximizing Value.
Expect the best at Sacred Heart EC. While other free-standing ERs are known to order tests to increase bills or have outside physicians do “rounds” on observation stays of emergency patients, Sacred Heart EC sets themselves apart in minimizing costs while maximizing value to their patients. What about observation stays? Dr. Im comments, “We believe there is a place for observation of emergency patients, such as prolonged IV infusion of rare antibiotics or cases where we like to err on caution before sending patients to a higher level of care facility. But if you are being offered an observation bed for simple IV hydration or having blood work drawn for a broken ankle or obvious orthopedic issue or laceration, then be wary.”
Rest assured that when you visit Sacred Heart EC, you receive care from someone who is directly involved in the community. Sacred Heart EC is owned and staffed by members of this community. Dr. Im adds, “We have a great relationship with the other physician specialists in the area. Specialists in cardiology, orthopedics,
gastrointestinal, orthopedic, urology and obstetrics and family and internal medicine and pediatrics. We believe that our relationship with our peers speaks for itself. We are all on the same page, and we try to order what is medically necessary for a successful handoff of care.”
As recent headlines attest, COVID-19 testing can result in crazy costs (also known as fraudulent billing). Not so at Sacred Heart EC. He explains, “We are one of the more affordable out-of-pocket testing options out there. We did not have to do this, but we are trying to service the community and not using this pandemic as a fear-mongering tactic to increase profits.”
Insurance is billed only if a patient desires to be seen by the physician. Dr. Im explains, “Some places have tried to bypass this by having patients fill out forms that give up their right to question billing and/or state they have checked in as a patient so that they can bill a simple test as an Emergency Room visit. This allows these ERs to bill as they wish. On top of this, they will send out a separate bill to collect the balance or in some cases not send a bill at all, as it would alert the patient to their fraudulent activities.”
Want to be tested for COVID-19? Dr. Im encourages making an appointment first. He explains, “If patients are asymptomatic but require testing due to being in close contact with a potential CV19 infection or need documentation for work or an activity, call to make an appointment for drive-up testing. We do try to accommodate walk-in testing, but please know that there may be a wait, as first and foremost we are an Emergency Center and need to see our patients.”
Recently, Congress has passed a law to curb surprise medical balance billing. Dr. Im says, “At Sacred Heart EC, we welcome this change. In fact, we have been championing this legislation for some time. One thing that sets us apart from our competition is that we pride ourselves on our transparency, especially when it comes to medical billing.” The front desk has been trained to explain all of the potential benefits of a patient’s insurance. Sometimes, it is more affordable to be seen as a cash patient if their copay is high. “We try to alert the patient of this as they are signing in and allow them to make that choice,” says Dr. Im. Self-pay
rates are reasonable for an ER. The billing staff at Sacred Heart EC is in house, the office manager, Dr. Laura Mendoza, also a specialist in pediatrics, oversees all of their billing. Dr. Im says, “It is beneficial having a physician to oversee these charges as she has a better understanding of our thought processes as physicians on how and why we order certain tests. Plus, it is a bonus having a pediatrician in-house to collaborate on difficult pediatric cases.”
Sacred Heart EC is open 24 hours a day and can provide care that is beyond an urgent care or primary care physician. Staffed with Board Certified Emergency Medicine physicians and nurses, care can be provided to complicated lacerations, fractures
and most importantly stabilizing emergent conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, critical COVID-19 cases and emergent surgical cases such as appendicitis. Setup agreements are in place with all the major hospital systems to accept patients to a higher level of care facility.
Meet the Doctors
Dr. Im, Dr. Su and Dr. Nahm all worked together prior to launching their own business together 10 years ago. They have all worked and trained in level-one trauma centers, and Sacred Heart EC was born out of their observation that there was a need in this community that wasn’t being met. Working in the hospital, it was difficult to provide comprehensive care for the patient. They wanted the chance to have a conversation with their patients and treat the patient, not just the symptoms. The dedicated doctors and staff are here to get you back on your feet and feeling better quickly.
Dr. Mark Im was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Born right here at Memorial City Hospital, he grew up in the Spring Branch area and is currently a resident here in Hedwig Village. He attended St. Jerome School and Strake Jesuit for high school. Dr. Im trained at UT Houston Medical Center and finished his Emergency Medicine residency at Suny Stony Brook in New York. On his time off, he likes fishing and golfing; however, most of his free time is spent with his daughter and Jisu, his wife. Jisu is a part-time violin teacher and faculty at Tallowood Baptist Church orchestra. Their daughter, Leia, is 5 years old and takes up a lot of his time!
Dr. Wesley Nahm is a true Houstonian, born and raised. He attended Texas A&M University and studied medicine at University of Texas Health Science center in San Antonio. There he met his wife, Dr. Laura Mendoza. They both attended residency in Ohio and moved to Houston to raise their two children. They have
lived in the Memorial area for over 17 years. You can spot Dr. Nahm running in the Memorial area with his Doberman.
Dr. Di Su lived on three different continents before age 12. He attended Bellaire High School in Houston. After graduating from Duke University, he received his medical education and training at Medical College of Virginia and the University of Rochester. He spends his free time with his wife and two children, and he is also an avid collector and hunter. We are honored to feature Sacred Heart Emergency Center this month.
Written by Elizabeth McCabe; Photo taken by K. Gotham Photography
Hedwig Village Magazine (Download PDF Version)