Mishawaka's north side will soon have three new urgent care centers within a half mile. And the growing number of emergency clinics is part of a growing national trend. But is there enough traffic and do enough people live near Mishawaka’s north side to support it locally?
“We’re really under-served as a greater South Bend area,” explained Doctors Express spokesman Greg Sautter. “In their market research, [the doctors opening this location] found Heritage Square kind of looking at a growth community.”
Doctors Express is opening in three weeks on the south side of the Heritage Square shopping center. It faces the busy State Road 23.
Contractors are also busy just down the road, building Physicians Immediate Care, just north of University Park mall. It is scheduled to open in late spring or early summer, said spokeswoman Cindy Donohoe.
“We believe the community can sustain additional urgent care facilities. We're seeing people still have long waits to get into the ER or they can't get to see the primary care physician and urgent care really fills this gap,” Donohoe explained.
Both Doctors Express and Physicians Immediate Care plan to get patients in and out in less than an hour, but the 24 hour Memorial Med Point that is within walking distance of the two says its average wait time is one hour and 15 minutes.
Memorial is not worried about new competition, said Memorial Medical Group Chairman Vincent Henderson, M.D.
“Providing urgent care is a very complex business. It sounds simple sometimes – open up an office, have a doctor staff that, patients show up. I wish it was that simple, it is not,” said Dr. Henderson.
Memorial has seen other urgent care centers come and go, he added, saying patients will ultimately go where they’re comfortable.
But, said Sautter, healthcare in general is changing and the growing number of emergency clinics reflects that because society in general wants medical care for non-life threatening "emergencies" when we want it – and many people don't want to wait for their doctor to get them in for an appointment.
“Look at the healthcare legislation that's going to be phasing in over the next couple years that's going to make insurance available for a lot more people,” Sautter said.
Doctors Express is a national franchise and the Heritage Square location is owned by two east coast doctors who have local ties, he added. One is a Notre Dame graduate.
Physicians Intermediate Care currently has 18 locations in Illinois and is opening another location in Elkhart, along with the new Mishawaka building.
Neither will be open 24 hours a day. The plan right now is to be open for 12 hour shifts. Right now Med Point 24 at Main St. and State Road 23 is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.