More Urgent Care Centers Coming to Arkansas

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jul. 22, 2013 12:00 am  

Dr. John McLean, an owner of Velocity Care of Shreveport, said he sees adding more locations in central Arkansas if its Little Rock center is successful. (Photo by Mauren Kennedy)

“While the general consensus of health plan executives was that it is unclear whether urgent care centers result in overall cost savings, they appeared optimistic about UCC’s potential as a cost-effective alternative to” emergency departments, according to the report by the Center for Studying Health System Change of Washington, D.C., a nonpartisan organization that conducts policy research and analysis of the health care system in the United States.

The study did find that urgent care centers filled a gap by providing health care services on evenings and weekends when the offices of primary care physicians are closed.

It’s unclear how many urgent care centers there are in Arkansas.

Paul Cunningham, executive vice president of the Arkansas Hospital Association, said he has not heard of many urgent care centers in the state. “Arkansas tends to be on the backside of a lot of national trends,” he said. “So if it’s happening in other states, I suspect it will happen to some degree in Arkansas.”

A Need for Urgent Care

In 2006, Sherwood opened Sherwood Urgent Care after seeing a need. Sherwood, who was an emergency room doctor, said he wanted to open a practice where patients could come without an appointment and receive medical attention quickly.

Since his first location opened, in Searcy, Sherwood Urgent Care has opened five more locations, including offices in Batesville and Conway.

McLean, Dr. John Soud, an osteopath who lives in Jacksonville, Fla., and Dr. Jerel Raney, who grew up in Little Rock and now lives in Shreveport, formed Velocity Care about three and a half years ago because they, too, saw a need for urgent care.

“We are all board-certified emergency room physicians,” McLean said. “We realized how busy it was in the emergency room … and how difficult it was to get in.”

Some patients — with, for example, an ailment such as a kidney stone — would sit for hours in pain waiting to be seen by an ER doctor. “It dawned on us, ‘You know, we really can handle that away from an emergency room,’” McLean said.

McLean said the business model for Velocity is to staff the centers with doctors trained and certified in emergency care. The centers also have X-ray machines and labs to run basic tests.

“That way, anything that comes in the door we can take care of,” McLean said.



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