Columbia urgent care centers work to meet growing demand

8 months 2 weeks 1 day ago Friday, January 06 2017 Jan 6, 2017 Friday, January 06, 2017 2:18:00 PM CST January 06, 2017 in News
By: Jared Koller, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA – The demand for fast, inexpensive medical care is growing as urgent care centers look to evolve services to best meet the community’s need.

The Urgent Care Association of America estimates an increase in roughly 4,000 new centers across the nation since 2009, with the total number of clinics exceeding 9,000.

Andrew Metza, Providence Urgent Care clinical manager, attributes the growth to a variety of services that anyone in the community can utilize.

“If you’ve never seen a primary care physician, urgent care centers can be there for you,” Metza said. “Little visits are never too small for urgent care. We cover the big stuff from x-rays all the way down to 'I need a Band-Aid.'”

Flu vaccinations, common cold diagnosis, x-rays, strep-throat and mono testing, drug screenings and minor cut treatment are among the most popular services that the average urgent care center provides.

Columbia centers all offer similar services but compete in terms of location.

“We’re placed in different key locations by these big communities so that people don’t have to drive that far,” Metza said. “Especially if it’s an in and out visit with a sick kid, nobody wants to be at the ER for three to four hours with a sick kid.”

The expansion of locations is a trend across the country, as the average American urgent care center receives approximately 357 patient visits per week. Providence Urgent Care locations make up three of Columbia’s 11 centers, and Metza estimates his centers provide treatment for 840 patients a week.

The number of visits every day keeps each center busy, but Metza said the key is to adapt hours and staff to keep providing treatment under 30 minutes. 

“After hours we’re open. A lot of the clinics will close around 6:00, but we’re open untill 8:00 to serve the after hours market for the family that needs it,” Metza said. “We’ve gone out and hired more M.D.’s to help us since we’re open every day except pretty much Christmas or Thanksgiving.”

Private urgent care centers charge significantly less for treatment than emergency rooms. They also help take the load off crowded emergency rooms.

“One of the biggest goals is to actually help relieve the ER’s from the abundance flow they have,” Metza said. “They have a lot of patients that go there for flu-like symptoms or common colds, but they really don’t need to go there and crowd it up from those serious cases that really need their attention.”

The Urgent Care Association of America says nearly half of all visits to urgent care centers result in an average charge of less than $150, compared to the average cost of an ER visit at around $1,350.

As new families across the country start to use these services, the association projects more than $18 billion in revenue in 2017 with more than 12,000 clinics. Columbia could experience even more expansion in the future to keep wait times low. 

Metza said he wants more people to know the benefits of using urgent care.

“We need to be spreading the word that these centers are here for people, because people don’t realize they can come into these urgent care centers and have an X-ray for a broken bone, versus waiting four or five hours,” Metza said.

Future expansion in Boone County could also range from added rural locations to private urgent care partnerships with hospital systems.

Of the 11 primary urgent care locations in Columbia, ten are open seven days a week for at least five hours. For serious conditions or injuries, emergency rooms at Boone Hospital Center and the University Hospital are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Jefferson City Public Schools Superintendent Larry Linthacum released a letter addressing the three students who posted a picture... More >>
1 hour ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 4:05:00 PM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Orthopaedic Institute is now offering a free sports clinic called Friday Night Lights. Sports physicians... More >>
1 hour ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 3:15:00 PM CDT September 22, 2017 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA (AP) — A county clerk in central Missouri has determined that Attorney General Josh Hawley lawfully voted in a... More >>
2 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 2:59:39 PM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Twenty-four clinics across the state were selected to receive a federal grant to fund programs that treat... More >>
2 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 2:50:00 PM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
HOUSTON, Mo. (AP) — A man and two women are charged in the killing of 17-year-old whose burned remains were... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 1:22:00 PM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The UM System hired a large public relations firm to help "craft its message and avoid perception crisis,"... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 1:21:00 PM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — The property owner of a former homeless camp site is suing a southwest Missouri city and a... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 1:17:30 PM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart is testing a new service that lets a delivery person walk into your home when... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 12:35:16 PM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis County outlet mall is being targeted by protesters one week after a judge... More >>
5 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 11:48:00 AM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
ST. JOSEPH (AP) — St. Joseph police are investigating the death of a 77-year-old woman as a homicide and her... More >>
6 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 11:08:00 AM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A second man has been charged with killing one man and wounding two others at a... More >>
6 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 10:44:53 AM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Eric Greitens has appointed two new members to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. ... More >>
6 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 10:25:18 AM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
COLE COUNTY – A boil water advisory is affecting around 1,000 customers in the small town of Wardsville. The... More >>
7 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 10:10:00 AM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - A Camden County deputy looking for a runaway teenager said he encountered a man who at one... More >>
7 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 9:50:00 AM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Hundreds of mostly white protesters gathered Thursday in downtown St. Louis and marched, chanting "white silence... More >>
7 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 9:18:00 AM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Thursday kicked off Budweiser’s latest effort in its campaign to prevent drunk driving. Missouri is one of... More >>
9 hours ago Friday, September 22 2017 Sep 22, 2017 Friday, September 22, 2017 7:19:00 AM CDT September 22, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A man was injured after being struck by a motor vehicle on New Haven road. The vehicle also... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, September 21 2017 Sep 21, 2017 Thursday, September 21, 2017 11:37:00 PM CDT September 21, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – A group is looking to bring a new residential neighborhood to Columbia’s westside. Subject to zoning and annex... More >>
19 hours ago Thursday, September 21 2017 Sep 21, 2017 Thursday, September 21, 2017 10:07:00 PM CDT September 21, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 90°
6pm 90°
7pm 86°
8pm 82°
9pm 79°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

5:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 5
5:30p
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt
6:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 6
5:00p
American Dad!
5:30p
American Dad!
6:00p
Family Guy

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
America's Got Talent
9:00p
Dateline NBC
7:00p
Masters of Illusion
7:30p
Masters of Illusion
8:00p
Penn & Teller: Fool Us
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld