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HUHN plans to open urgent care centers over the next few years in northern New Jersey

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Hackensack University Health Network plans to open as many as 10 urgent care centers over the next few years in northern New Jersey through a partnership with New York-based CityMD, which has more than 30 urgent care centers in the New York metro area, including 23 in New York City.

Robert C. Garrett, chief executive of the HUHN, said this marks the first expansion into urgent care centers for Hackensack, which is already in the retail health care arena through a partnership with MinuteClinics at CVS pharmacies.

At least one urgent care center will open by late summer or fall "and we intend to open between six and ten in the next two to two and a half years," Garrett said.

The centers will be located in Bergen, Hudson, Passaic and Essex Counties and possibly Rockland County, where Hackensack has an affiliation with Good Samaritan Hospital.

These urgent care centers will be in the same insurance networks that Hackensack now belongs to, and will be a less expensive alternative to emergency room care for patients who don't need the level of acute emergency care an ER provides, Garrett said.

"The objective is to provide urgent care closer to peoples' neighborhoods and communities," Garrett said. "More and more care is being delivered outside the hospital."

Garrett said this is the first entry into New Jersey for CityMD, which provides high quality urgent care.

"One of the things that make them unique is their high quality follow up," Garrett said. "They have a call center with clinicians who follow up with patients after they've been in urgent care to make sure there is appropriate physician referral. That is unique and something that really attracted us to them."

He said the urgent care centers will be staffed by doctors and nurses from CityMD and "there will be clinical coordination and oversight by the Hackensack emergency trauma center."

And depending on the location, an urgent care center might see 30,000 to 50,000 patients a year. For urgent care patients who don't have a primary care doctor, the staff will help schedule a visit to a primary care physician and "really go the extra mile—I think this actually will encourage folks to get a primary care doctor," Garrett said. Patients who visit the urgent care centers without a primary care physician will be referred to one.

"This will help our network physicians, because those patients who need follow up care will be referred to a Hackensack University Health Network physician, especially if they don't have a primary care doctor already," he said.

He did not disclose the business details of the partnership, but said CityMD will provide most of the capital for the urgent care centers, which will be co-branded with Hackensack.

"On the clinical side we're going to work very closely together."

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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