Urgent Care Centers

By Sara Hodon

Your child has been complaining of an earache. Your spouse needs a physical for a new job. You pulled a muscle in your shoulder. You don’t want to wait in the emergency room, and your family doctor is booked solid. A trip to your nearest urgent care center can take care of everyone in a few hours. These facilities, which provide short-term medical care to patients with a range of non-life threatening conditions, are opening in communities throughout the country, including the Lehigh Valley.

“An urgent care center should be called a seven-–day-a-week walk-in health clinic,” says John Makuvek, Marketing and Business Development at Saucon Valley Medical Center, Center Valley. “Urgent care offers convenience, quality, and affordability. Let’s say you get sick on a Friday night. Your family doctor may not be able to see you until Monday or Tuesday. With an urgent care center, you can walk in, get treated, leave with your medication, and be on your way to healing.”

The goal of an urgent care center is to streamline medical treatment for both the patient and physician.  “Emergency rooms are for heart attacks, strokes, and motor vehicle accidents,” says Heidi Signore, Director of Coordinated Health Care-on-Demand, , Bethlehem. Unlike larger medical facilities, urgent care’s services are available all in one place. “Our Care-on-Demand Center is different from other free-standing facilities. Another benefit is that we offer integrated patient care. If you come into our facility, the next day if you’re scheduled with a specialist, they can see in the same computer system what happened at the first appointment. The attending physician won’t waste time trying to track down what happened during your visit,” says Signore.

Ralph Feldman, Business Manager/Principal at Saucon Valley Medical Center, says that urgent care centers and hospitals have a good working relationship. “We will take their overflow after-hours business and we’ll treat their patients. We’ll report back to their primary physician so they can follow up and make sure their patients are taken care of.” If the patient’s condition is beyond the scope of treatment that the urgent care center can provide, the center will make the appropriate referral to the nearest hospital. “We make sure the patient shows up at the ER with the proper information so they can be treated quicker and more effectively,” Feldman says.

Urgent care centers provide other options besides emergency care, including physical and occupational therapy, X-rays, and occupational medicine services such as physicals, drug and alcohol screenings, lab studies, and workers’ compensation physicals. A few even offer massage therapy or chiropractic care. Like a regular hospital, urgent care centers accept most insurance plans. “If a patient doesn’t have insurance we accept cash pay and work with them to get them their treatment,” Makuvek says. Saucon Valley Medical Center also provides primary care services, so a patient can see the center’s physician as their family doctor and schedule appointments for routine checkups, Feldman says.

Urgent care centers’ smaller size also allows for the medical staff to get to know their patients on a more personal level, and many work hard to become active members of the communities they serve. “We provide a lot of support to local universities and schools as well as a lot of our employers, like physicals or anything their health centers can’t handle,” Makuvek says. “In the medical field you see a lot of mergers and acquisitions and creating health networks. There are a lot of benefits but it can become cumbersome to patients who get referrals to others in the network rather than the doctor who can best heal the patient.  If you are going to seek healthcare, the first thing you want to do is to know who is treating you.”

Coordinated Health Care-on-Demand Urgent Care
2775 Schoenersville Road
Bethlehem, PA 18017

Saucon Valley Medical Center Urgent Care/Primary Care
4801 Saucon Creek Road
Suite 110
Center Valley, PA 18034

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