December 17, 2014
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Urgent care center opens near Kent, hopes to lessen burden on ER

The first CareWell Urgent Care Center of Rhode Island opened yesterday on Centerville Road in Warwick, just over a mile from Kent Hospital. The 2,700-square-foot space is adjacent to Elite Physical Therapy, a location that CEO of CareWell, Renee Lohman sees as ideal.

“It’s great synergy,” she said.

Lohman said she had been looking at the Warwick location for about two years. CareWell had another location on Cape Cod, but this is it’s first in Rhode Island. Lohman said they plan to open an additional 30 centers in the next three years.

The Warwick center houses six exam rooms, one procedure room, an x-ray facility and a laboratory. Lohman said the center has created 14 new jobs, and all of the employees were local hires. The facility will be open 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday, and 10 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday.

Lohman said CareWell chose Centerville Road because of its high volume of traffic and close proximity to both the highway and several area schools. The prominence of the center was also an attractive component, since Lohman said choosing a spot on a major thoroughfare like Route 2 would have decreased accessibility and visibility. By picking Centerville Road and an existing medical building, Lohman hopes to draw in many new patients who are looking for immediate medical care but at a cheaper price than the ER.

“We are a low-cost neighborhood-based alternative,” she said.

The CareWell Urgent Care Center can treat pretty much anything, but Lohman said if someone appears to be having a heart attack or stroke, of if they’ve just been seriously injured in a car accident, they should go to the hospital.

“We can stabilize these people,” she said, but noted that they will be transported by ambulance to the closest hospital.

In CareWell’s case, that’s Kent Hospital.

“It’s a reflection of health care today,” said Jim Beardsworth, spokesman for Kent Hospital, on the center’s opening.

Beardsworth said there are other similar centers opening in the area as well. But Beardsworth said the hospital offers something these urgent care centers can’t: a certain, established quality of care and ability to support patients with various services.

“These are things you’re not always going to find in these [centers] cropping up around the area,” he said.

But Lohman sees their close proximity as a good thing for the hospital, since the Urgent Care center will refer patients to them and also decrease the amount of people in the ER with non-life threatening ailments, like a cough or minor injury.

“People who shouldn’t be are showing up in the ER,” said Lohman, a problem for both the patient and the hospital.

Lohman said an average visit to a CareWell center will cost patients roughly $150 with a $30 co-pay; an average visit to the ER could cost upwards of $1,000. CareWell accepts all types of insurance and will see uninsured patients as well – they can pay with a credit card and will be billed a reduced fee.

Lohman said urgent care centers differ from walk-in medical centers in that they’re managed by doctors, not nurses.

Lohman said urgent care centers are popping up across the country, but there are still only about 8,700 nationwide. She said CareWell plans to open two other centers in Rhode Island, which would each provide an additional 12 jobs to the local market. They’re looking at Barrington and South County as possible locations.


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