SOUTH BEND -- Physicians Urgent Care is building a new center on Ireland Road in South Bend.
It is scheduled to open in mid-September at 1245 E. Ireland Road.
“We think this location is fantastic,” said Cindy Donohoe, a customer experience officer with the company. “It’s right in the retail area of town. It is convenient for patients because they are already in the area shopping or running errands.”
The company, also known as Physicians Immediate Care, was founded in Rockford, Ill., 25 years ago. That was just when urgent care was “coming into its own,” Donohoe said. Now, the urgent care and occupational health services company has more than 20 walk-in centers in four states that treat non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.
“Urgent care fills a need in the community,” Donohoe said. “Sometimes people can’t get in fast enough to see their doctor or it’s not serious enough for the emergency room or they don’t want to have to deal with the wait times.”
Kim Harden agrees that urgent care centers fill a community need.
“Urgent care began, as far as anyone can tell, in the late 1970s,” said the marketing director for the Urgent Care Association of America, in an e-mail. She explained that while the industry has steadily grown since that time, it has taken off in the last five years. Between 2008 and 2010, about 300 new centers have opened each year.
She cites several factors she said seem to be contributing to the industry’s growth: a shortage of primary care physicians, emergency room closures and wait times, and patients becoming more comfortable with the urgent care model.
Now, she said, the private equity community is beginning to invest in the business model and investments are fueling growth from within the industry.
In a 2012 Urgent Care Association survey, more than 85 percent of urgent care centers expected growth, primarily in the number of patient visits. Forty percent of those centers expected to also expand their existing location or add another site.
And that is what Physicians Urgent Care is doing.
It recently opened a center in Mishawaka and intends to open another in Elkhart at the end of the year and one in Warsaw possibly in 2014.
The South Bend center will be open seven days a week, including 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. It will be staffed by a doctor or physician’s assistant under the supervision of a doctor, who can diagnose and treat everything from fevers, fractures and allergic reactions to lacerations, burns and broken bones.
It will be fully equipped with a digital X-ray machine and staffed by a radiologic technician. It will offer immunizations, physicals and lab tests. It will even
have a pediatric room that will be a “little more fun and less scary” for the children, Donohoe said.
“We help the local businesses with occupational health needs,” she said, explaining that the center can do drug testing and pre-employment physicals or treat minor work injuries. “It’s a big part of what we do in the community.”
She said the question most often asked by patients to the center is, “Do you accept insurance?”
“Yes,” she said. “We accept Medicare, too.”