As the number of urgent care centers grows, and operators continue to position the facilities as affordable alternatives to emergency rooms, some clinicians are offering 24-hour access to urgent medical care. The hours ensure service is available to patients with an urgent, non-emergency medical need any time of day.
My name is Dr. Sonny Saggar and I have been amazed at the growth of urgent cares in the Saint Louis region, but not one of them were open after 8pm, be they hospital-owned or private. Did nobody realize that injuries and illnesses don't have office hours?
Maybe it's because I've been an emergency physician for over 20 years, first in England, then in West County Saint Louis, that I always wanted to make Downtown Urgent Care to be the first one that is open 24/7. At the time of this writing, it is still the only 24/7 urgent care in the region that I am aware of.
I have no interest in opening more locations or expanding. My goal has never been to make a gazillion dollars scaling up a business. My first duty is to my patients. I don't even see my urgent care as a 'business'. It's more of a service, sustained by insurance and cash payments. And if someone can't pay, we have never and will never take them to court. Medical bills are the chief cause of bankruptcy in the USA and I certainly don't want to be part of the problem.
Tragically, so many Americans stay home and do not seek medical care when they should, putting themselves and their families at risk, just because they're petrified of the crazy bill that's going to come through the mail a week or two later. This is why Downtown Urgent Care also offers a special service called 75gmp.com that limits the cost of any visit to just $75, whether you're insured or not!
Offering round-the-clock access to patients lends more credibility to Downtown Urgent Care. It’s one of the best decisions I've made, even though the extended hours will cost money, people and other resources.
People look at Downtown Urgent Care and take us seriously. It’s a big commitment of time, money, supplies, people, and equipment, but to do it well and to do it right, that’s what it takes.
Yes of course, there are hours when we don’t make any money at all, and that's just fine, but we gain in reputation, (having it known) in our medical community that we’re there when nobody else is.
ER visits increased by 20 percent in the first decade of the new millennium, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in five Americans will visit the ER at least once annually, translating to about 136 million visits per year. Of those trips, only 12 percent result in admission, while as many as 65 percent are deemed unnecessary. ER visits are about four times as expensive and time-consuming as other ambulatory visits. Billions of dollars in health care costs, along with 65 percent waste and endless hours of work and school time lost occur as a result, U.S. News & World Report recently documented.
Most patients are using the ER because of the hours of access. For children, about 75 percent of their visits occur on nights and weekends, when the primary care physician is not open. Most of these visits are related to respiratory illnesses. Most adults show up for injuries, certainly unplanned and not likely to fit into a scheduled appointment.
Around 6,400 urgent care centers are operating across the country, according to a database maintained by the Urgent Care Association of America. Data on the number of 24-hour urgent care facilities is not tracked by the UCAOA.
And that's not all. Downtown Urgent Care isn't just 24/7 urgent care. It's also 24/7 primary care, and 24/7 telemedicine and 24/7 work comp injury evaluation.
Many nightshift workers never find time to get seen by a PCP because they're just not open when the person is off work and awake - now they can. Similarly, many employers, who would ordinarily use a work comp clinic like Concentra or BarnesCare during the day, have no choice but to use the ER after those places close, racking up huge bills, which are kinda painful especially for a self-insured employer. Enter Downtown Urgent Care, where a worker with a minor injury can go for initial presentation and then for every follow-up visit, at a fraction of the cost of every other service in town.
Most 24-hour urgent care centers are found in high population density areas, such as Los Angeles or New York, where they also provide occupational medicine services to employers operating three shifts. The idea has spread in recent years to other areas, including Georgia, Texas and Missouri.
Such centers are attractive options for consumers who don’t have primary care physicians or face a long wait before getting in to see their regular providers. Urgent care clinics usually have extended operating hours on nights and weekends, which appeals to people unable to take time off from work. The prices are more affordable than those charged by hospital emergency rooms or free-standing emergency centers.
Since the growth of urgent care is a consumer-driven phenomenon, it makes sense that many of the centers are locating in retail settings and establishing extended hours.
Don’t waste time and money at an emergency room or emergency room just because it’s very late or very early. Downtown Urgent Care is here to provide you quality, affordable care, day and night.
We are looking forward to better-serving the community and helping divert patients who may otherwise land in an emergency room.
Patients come to us and say about other urgent care facilities, ‘They were open and they wouldn’t take care of us because we got there at 7:45 p.m. They come over to our location and say, ‘You’ve got a patient for life.”