A new urgent-care center, about the 35th in Palm Beach County, is scheduled to open late next month near Abacoa.
The Jupiter Medical Center plans to open in the former Blockbuster in Abacoa Plaza, at the northwest corner of Donald Ross Road and Military Trail. The $500,000 center will have lab services, primary care and wellness counseling. The 5,000-square-foot center will be open 12 hours every day.
“We will provide faster care than emergency rooms and be less expensive. Most medical care can be provided in an outpatient environment,” said Jupiter Medical Center President and CEO John Couris.
Statewide and nationally, the number of urgent-care centers is growing by about 12 percent annually. About 700 new “docs in a box” open throughout the nation every year, said Sam Yates, spokesman for the Urgent Care Association of Florida. Med Express Urgent Care is open in the Donald Ross Village Shopping Center, on the other side of Donald Ross Road from the planned JMC center.
“In 2014, every American must have health care under the Affordable Care Act. Urgent-care clinics will be even more critical,” Yates said.
Hospitals and physicians like urgent-care centers because, unlike a hospital, a state-approved certificate of need is not required. The centers are far less expensive than a hospital or a free-standing emergency room, such as the $9 million JFK Medical Center emergency room opened last year in Palm Beach Gardens. The JFK center is open 24 hours every day.
Patients like urgent-care centers because primary physicians are getting tougher to find. Consumers can walk right into an urgent-care center and see a physician.
Consumers benefit with more urgent-care clinics, said Dan Goebel, co-owner of Jupiter Urgent Care on Indiantown Road. The center was one of the first when it opened in 1996, he said.
“Competition makes us continually improve our services. It’s capitalism and medicine coming together,” Goebel said.
Couris denied that the JMC center is a counterpunch to the opening last year of JFK’s free-standing ER — the first in Palm Beach County. The JFK center provides treatment for heart attacks and other emergencies, and is a step up from urgent-care centers.
The free-standing JFK emergency room in Midtown is an example of the growing trend among hospitals to meet customer demand — and increase profits — by bringing emergency care closer. Annual emergency room discharges increased from 333,000 in 2008 to 381,000 in 2011 in Palm Beach County, according to the Health Council of Southeast Florida.
“If we were competing with JFK, we would build our own free-standing ER,” Couris said. “There is no need for another emergency room in north county.”
By the numbers:
35: Urgent-care centers in Palm Beach County
200: Urgent-care centers in Florida
700: Number of urgent-care centers that open nationally each year
$10 billion: Amount to be spent in urgent-care centers this year.
$15 billion: Amount to be spent in urgent-care centers next year.
SOURCE: Urgent Care Association of Florida