Penfield, N.Y. (WHAM) - The nearly 20 or more urgent care centers in Monroe County could be proof of a change in how people are seeking medical treatment.
More people, including Stephanie Ancker of Penfield, are turning to urgent care clinics rather than seeing their primary care doctor. When Ancker isn't feeling well, the immediate care in Penfield, not her primary care doctor, is her first stop.
“I literally haven't seen my (primary care) doctor in years,” Ancker laughed.
Ancker isn't alone.
An Urgent Care Association (UCA) report said the demand for urgent care centers is growing.
Spokesperson for Rochester Regional Health Derek DeSol, said patient volume at three of its longer-standing immediate care centers has increased by 8 percent each year since 2014.
Some factors driving the industry's growth include patient demand, costs and convenience.
Dr. Charles Maskiell works at Rochester Regional Health Immediate Care.
“Our goal is to adequately access the problem, generate a plan for action, and get them out the door within an hour.
Dr. Maskiell left primary care several years ago to work solely as an urgent care physician.
“The issue with primary care is the workload never stops,” he said. “For reasons of my own personal quality of life, I’m happier here.”
From a patient standpoint, longer hours, short wait times and walk-in appointments are why urgent cares can be appealing.
“I come here and I know that I'm going to be seen that day,” said Ancker. “I was in, literally, and out within 15 minutes.”
Ancker said she did not have the same experience when she and her son made a trip to the ED a couple months ago.
“It was very hectic,” she said. “We were in the pediatric section and it was completely packed. It was hot. We were in there for hours.”
Urgent cares can also be less expensive for people who have high deductible insurance plans.
Dr. Maskiell said there are times people should go to an ED instead of an urgent care.
“Sometimes people are better off going to a ER if they have chest pain,” he said. “From the patient's perspective, it's nice to see someone who already knows them.”
The number of patients walking into RGHs ED with serious conditions has remained constant despite a decline in patients using the ED for less serious issues.
According to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, researchers found that 45% of 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed had no primary care provider, compared to 28% of 30- to 49-year-olds, 18% of 50- to 64-year-olds and 12% of people 65 years and older.