By Brian McCullough, Daily Local News
WEST CHESTER, PA | OCTOBER 7, 2015 – There’s a new alternative to the emergency room and physician’s office for area residents.
AFC Urgent Care recently opened in the 500 block of East Gay Street. It is the fourth such office opened by franchise owner Jeff Evons, who is joined at the new office by partner Mark Ludwick and Drs. Leonard Sax and Richard Waldman.
AFC, which stands for American Family Care, formerly operated under the name Doctors Express, Evons said. He also operates AFC Urgent Cares in South Philadelphia, Narbeth and Downingtown, with a half dozen more planned for the greater Philadelphia region in the next year and a half.
“It’s a fast-growing industry,” Evons said. “The growth is coming partially from Obamacare and partially from the fact that physicians aren’t going into family practice anymore because of low insurance reimbursements.”
AFC Urgent Care is the second-largest privately owned operator of urgent care and accessible primary care facilities in the country.
The center does not treat patients with long-term diseases, such as diabetes and cancer. Instead, it focuses on conditions that need immediate attention such as bone breaks or scans, and on patients who need medicine for ailments like the cold and flu.
“We’re there to support the emergency rooms,” Evons said. “Ninety percent of visits to the ER are for non-emergencies, clogging things up and adding to the wait times.”
In touting center services, AFC said:
• All patients are handled in a single visit for acute illness and trauma, including minor surgical procedures. The center has an on-site laboratory and digital x-ray services.
• Most insurance plans are accepted. Out-of-pocket costs are a fraction of emergency room visits for the uninsured.
• Pre-employment physicals, drug screenings, and treatment of work related injuries are also available to local employers.
The West Chester center will employ nine people and be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. It said it will have X-ray technicians, medical assistants, and physicians on staff during all hours of operations.
Philadelphia is one of the last areas in the nation to embrace the urgent care concept, Evons said. In much of the nation, particularly the Midwest, the centers have been part of the medical treatment landscape for decades, he said.
Young people, particularly, are becoming more comfortable with the model, as are the newly insured under Obamacare who never had their own family physician, he said.
“This is critical because as our nation’s health care model continues to evolve, the number of insured patients without a primary care physician will increase,” Evons said, adding that today’s general practitioners spend half their time on non-medical duties.
“We take care of the billing, the staffing, the negotiations with insurance companies and the collections afterwards,” Evons said in explaining why new doctors will seek out centers instead of trying to start their own practices.
The future of healthcare will be urgent care centers and concierge medicine in which patients pay a yearly fee to be part of a doctor’s “club,” Evons said.
“The family physician with a shingle out in front of the building is history,” he said.
– To contact staff writer Brian McCullough, call 610-235-2655 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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