Jupiter Medical Center plans to open a medical clinic — the second in two years — to meet the growing demand for an alternative to emergency rooms.
“There is a whole bandwidth of medical care that we can provide that does not require patients to go to the emergency room, the most expensive part of health care,” said John Couris, the medical center’s president and chief executive.
Jupiter Medical Center plans four more medical clinics in the next five years between West Palm Beach and Hobe Sound, Couris said.
A January opening is planned on the north side of Indiantown Road, just east of Center Street, next to Harmony Animal Hospital. The free-standing building was formerly operated by another medical clinic, Jupiter Urgent Care.
The $600,000 center will have lab services, primary care, X-rays, flu shots and other services. Hours will be seven days a week, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Couris said.
Statewide and nationally, the number of urgent-care centers is growing by about 12 percent annually, with about 700 new “docs in a box” opening throughout the nation every year. There are about 40 urgent-care centers in Palm Beach County, according to the Urgent Care Association of Florida. Medical clinics with physicians are opening at Wal-Marts, as well as CVS and Walgreens drugstores.
“It’s a business-driven decision to make it more convenient for patients,” said Tim O’Connor, Palm Beach County Health Department spokesman.
Jupiter Medical Center opened a medical clinic in April 2013 in a former Blockbuster store in Abacoa Plaza, on the northwest corner of Donald Ross Road and Military Trail.
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.
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 in 2012 in Palm Beach Gardens, in Midtown across the street from The Borland Center for the Performing Arts. The JFK center is open 24 hours every day.
The Jupiter Medical Center clinic is a counterpunch to JFK’s free-standing ER — the first in Palm Beach County, Couris said. The JFK center provides treatment for heart attacks and other emergencies, a step up from urgent-care centers.
“This is retail medicine. It’s all about bringing quality medical care to the customer and keeping medical costs down,” Couris said.