New medical centers aim to speed up emergency wait times

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Seeing a doctor when you're sick or hurt should get a little faster. Local hospital systems are adding urgent care and emergency centers.

For minor injuries and illnesses, patients can be treated in minutes at Bon Secours' first urgent care center, Good Health Express, on Brook Road, which is complete with X-rays and a lab.

"We built it so people could get in and out quickly for minor types of cheap complaints. Colds, flu, when children fall and cut themselves," explained Good Health Express' Administrative Director Jill Russell.

Good Health Express joins other local walk-in, urgent care centers such as Patient First, Concentra, Richmond Urgent Care and KidMed.

Urgent care centers have grown from 8000 in the U.S. in the mid 1990's, to 9300 today, according to the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine. A Rand Corporation report found urgent care centers can treat up to one third of injuries and illnesses that are treated in emergency rooms. The goal of providing urgent care centers is to cut your wait time and your bill.

Said Russell, "Co-pays for an urgent care center are generally less expensive than going to the emergency department."

Late next year, Bon Secours will open a free standing emergency center on West Broad Street in Short Pump. Free-standing emergency centers offer equivalent care for more serious injuries and illnesses as traditional hospital emergency rooms without being physically attached to hospitals.

HCA Virginia is also putting two new, free-standing emergency centers into the community. HCA's Hanover Emergency Center is expected to be complete in June. HCA's West Creek Emergency Center last year, with labs, X-rays, CT's and ultrasounds.

Said Dr. Jeff Reihl, Medical Director of both the West Creek and Hanover Emergency Centers, "What we can do in an emergency center is evaluate patients quickly and get them admitted to a hospital bed, just like an emergency center attached to a hospital."

It's a way to bring emergency care to a growing community without the cost of building entire hospitals.

For patients, Dr. Reihl said, "costs are going to be similar to any other emergency department. Times are going to be hopefully a lot quicker than people in this area have been experiencing."

Both hospital systems hope these sites will provide patients with more options to get the care they need, fast.

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