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In a historic stone cottage in Towson, Dr. Alberto Yataco is taking an innovative approach to affordable health care.

Yataco on July 1 will open Get Well Immediate Care, a walk-in health clinic, in the 1920s structure at York and Hillside roads, across from Towson University.

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"You come here and I can immediately see you," said Yataco, who is also owner and medical director of IRC Clinics, which he said runs clinical research studies for pharmaceutical and biotech companies and earns $2 million a year in revenues. IRC is based in a business park at 7801 York Road, behind the cottage.

Yataco, 51, of Hampton, who is from Lima, Peru, said he did his medical residency at Union Memorial Hospital and a fellowship in geriatrics at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. He maintains that the respect between patients and doctors "is completely missing" at many health clinics.

At Get Well, "You won't have to wait an hour," he said. "I'm not going to see you as a number."

And, he said, Get Well will charge patients who don't have health insurance a flat fee of $80, including for X-rays. When asked if that is part of a marketing strategy, he said, "It's more like social conscience. I want personalized care. I want people to completely believe that I care for them."

The health clinic will open with a staff of about 11 physicians, mental health therapists, nurse-practitioners, laboratory technicians and medical assistants, as well as a practice administrator, Alana Boseman, who said that the clinic doesn't want to overwork the staff.

Boseman, 22, a Towson resident who graduated from Towson University with a degree in Health Care and Business Administration, said that the clinic will specialize in immediate care, "but not at the cost of quality. A lot of urgent care employees are working 12-hour shifts. We took that into account in designing our schedule."

Yataco said that although the clinic will face competition in the fast-growing urgent care market, "there's room for growth. The market hasn't been capped yet."

And Boseman said that because of the success of IRC, "Our clinical network is already huge."

Yataco and Boseman said they are aiming at the college student market. Yataco said he was looking for locations near Towson University when he inquired if the vacant stone house was available, and the broker, MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services confirmed that it was. Get Well is now renting the building, they said.

Yataco said he has since sunk about $100,000 into the building, which has served through the years as a doctor's office, a lawyer's office and a printing facility. The 1,500-square-foot building was also a flower shop in the 1970s, according to Bill Whitty, senior vice president of MacKenzie.

The building, which Whitty said was rehabbed in 1980, had been vacant for 14 years and was in disrepair when Yataco took it over.

"No one was really excited because it looked really bad from the inside," he said.

Now, the renovated, re-imagined building, with several of its old walls knocked down, has a rustic, homey feel, with an arched front door, a high ceiling and working fireplace in the lobby/waiting room area, and a sign that says, "Keep calm and call Mom."

"It's not that big, but we wanted to make it work," Yataco said. "It does work."

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There are three exam rooms, an X-ray room, a doctor's and nurses' station, a lounge in the back, a front desk area, and a lab work area with computers, as well as a cozy designer bathroom. There's also a patient room that is designed for children, with stuffed animals on the window sill and games for children to play. Each room has sliding doors that Yataco said used to be barn doors.

There is also ample parking in the business park, Yataco said.

Yataco said he does not need a zoning exception for the York Road clinic, but is trying to reach out to communities as far away as Homeland to let them know about the clinic and "spread the word" in community association newsletters. He also said an open house is planned before the opening, but no date has been set yet.

Yataco said he is looking to "grow this model" and wants to open a second clinic in Hunt Valley Towne Centre.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks said last week he had not heard about the York Road clinic coming into the building, but he noted that the county has been trying to get more businesses to move into historic and "quaint" old buildings.

Although the building is designed for comfort, it is also optimized to make a patient's visit as painless and quick as possible.

"The American public is looking for expediency," Yataco said. "You will only look a second time if you had a good first experience."

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