The Debate on Westchester Walk-in Medical-Care
They’re fast and convenient, but are urgent-care centers good for our healthcare system?
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Starbucks locations outnumber urgent-care clinics in Westchester at the moment, but that may not be the case for long. The walk-in medical-care facilities are popping up like morels after a spring rain, with 17 in the County at press time and a dozen more in various stages of development. If some providers have their way, it won’t be long before you can get your scraped knee stitched up anywhere, anytime. Who knows? Maybe even at Starbucks…
That’s either good or bad—or both—depending on whom you ask and what their interest is in the business of medicine. Andrew Sussman, MD, president of MinuteClinic, which operates two walk-in clinics in Westchester CVS Pharmacy locations, says, “Our healthcare system today needs easy access, low cost, and quality care.” CVS has 650 MinuteClinics nationwide and plans to have 1,500 by 2017.
“There are a few positives, but a whole host of negatives,” says Thomas Lee, MD, chairman of the board of St. John’s Riverside Hospital and immediate past president of the Westchester County Medical Society. “You are increasing access and convenience at the price of good care, quality, and outcomes.”
From a different perspective, Scott Hayworth, MD, president and CEO of Mount Kisco Medical Group (MKMG), observes, “For a large, multi-specialty physician group like ours, it just makes sense. It’s an extension of the care we provide.” MKMG, with 300 physicians and 300,000 patients, operates two centers, in Yorktown Heights and Carmel, New York, with one slated to open this fall in Bedford Hills.
Ron Nutovits, MD, chairman of Emergency Medicine at Hudson Valley Hospital Center (HVHC) in Cortlandt Manor, is not a fan of the phenomenon.
“If the urgent-care centers are only going to be picking the paying customer,” he says, “it will contribute to more deficits for hospitals that are already struggling with the new healthcare economy.”