Steve Katz believes that, in some cases, there is nothing better than the emergency department for delivering necessary care. But, in many cases, Katz has found that the emergency department has usually become the “only option” for kids who get sick or injured during the evening.
“We’ve been really well received by all of the communities we’ve entered, because we’re filling a need that’s there,” said Katz, co-founder of PM Pediatrics, an after-hours urgent care center chain. “There’s a gap in health care” the company fills “because of how and when we operate.”
PM Pediatrics operates five urgent-care clinics, including its first location in New Jersey, which opened in Livingston in early October. The clinic has walk-in hours from 4 to 11 p.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends, 365 days a year.
“We were founded as an alternative to the emergency department, not an alternative to primary care,” Katz said. The goal was to find a way for sick or injured kids to avoid the emergency room’s usually “very long waits, a pretty intimidating atmosphere for kids and much higher costs. We saw that as an opportunity.”
Katz said the clinics can treat nearly 90 percent of all patients who would be treated in a pediatric emergency department, and can stabilize patients who must be moved to a traditional hospital.
“We fit in with (health care reform) very well because we’re so much lower cost, and we’re more efficient than the alternatives when we’re open,” Katz said.
As a whole, PM Pediatrics has grown its revenue by 224 percent in the last three years, and is expecting to sign a lease soon for a second New Jersey location.
Filling a void in health care was also the impetus for St. Peter’s Healthcare System to open an urgent care center in the Skillman section of Montgomery Township.
“We were approached by the then-mayor of the township, as were several other hospitals in the area, about filling the perceived void in emergency care that was going to take place with the movement of the Princeton hospital from Princeton proper across Route 1, to Plainsboro,” said Frank DiSanzo, chief of strategy for St. Peter’s. “Several freeholders were concerned about access to emergency care.”
DiSanzo said it would be a good way for St. Peter’s to expand its brand into the area, as well as “be a good neighbor and offer a valuable service to the local area residents.”
“A lot of hospitals are opening facilities like this to migrate traffic out of their emergency rooms and treat people in a setting that is more germane to what is actually happening to them,” DiSanzo said. “St. Peter’s is interested in opening additional urgent care centers, however that isn’t the reason why we opened Skillman.”
The urgent care clinic opened early in 2012, and has seen steady traffic of patients. DiSanzo said St. Peter’s main campus has seen an increase in outpatients who complete follow ups after a visit to the urgent care center.
And unlike other urgent care facilities affiliated with hospitals, St. Peter’s is not the closest traditional hospital to the clinic; DiSanzo said in emergencies, the urgent care center will divert patients to University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro or Capital Health more often than St. Peter’s.
“This was a good-faith gesture to the people we know in the community,” DiSanzo said.
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