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Urgent care centers explode in popularity

Posted: 5:39 PM, Sep 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-14 23:22:33Z

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There are still more fast food restaurants dotting Kansas City’s landscapes, but it seems like urgent care centers are becoming just as common.

The trend started in earnest during the last couple years.

“It’s a little more personal in the sense that it’s a smaller setting, the wait times are shorter,” said Dr. Melvin McFarlin, Area Medical Director for The Urgency Room.

Another major benefit according to McFarlin is the convenience factor. 

“The beauty of the urgent care facilities is that we are located in areas where people can fairly easily access the urgent care and they are pretty much accessible to any part of the city.”

According to the Urgent Care Association, there are more than 7,500 urgent care centers in the U.S. 

New research from Brigham and Women’s College of acute care centers shows that while the number of people visiting the ER decreased by 36 percent during the last 10 years,  the use of non-emergency room centers like urgent care increased by 140 percent.

“I think health care is changing. It’s becoming more of a retail market so we’re trying to reach people where they are at,” said Dr. Sandra Archer,  Medical Director at Centra Care, a program part of the Shawnee Mission Health umbrella.

Archer has seen the growth over the years mostly because of health care costs.

“Insurance has put pressure on where people’s bills go to,” he said. “The emergency room is much higher than it used to be 10-20 years ago.”

Archer said urgent care centers are often less expensive depending on your insurance, and can also relieve pressure on emergency rooms.

“Our goal is to get people in and out within an hour,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t succeed in that if we are busy, but that’s our goal and you’re not going to get that from an emergency room ever.”

Doctors urge patients not to go to urgent care facilities if they are suffering from a heart attack, stroke or heavy shortness of breath. In those cases, patients should go straight to the emergency room.

The clinics 41 Action News talked to said they hope to expand to many more locations throughout the metro.