Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Carilion to open 3 new locations for urgent care

The new clinics, called VelocityCare, will be in Christiansburg, Roanoke County and Daleville.

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Carilion Clinic will expand its urgent care business by opening three new locations across the region in the spring.

The nonprofit health care provider will open urgent care centers in Roanoke County, Christiansburg and Daleville by March or April under the new name VelocityCare, said Dr. John Burton, chairman of Carilion's department of emergency medicine.

The practices will be at 4037 Electric Road in Roanoke County, 434 Peppers Ferry Road in Christiansburg and 46 Wesley Road in Daleville. The Daleville location is the former site of a Carilion family care practice that has moved to a new building.

Additionally, Carilion will rename its existing urgent care site at Westlake in Hardy to be part of the VelocityCare brand, Burton said.

Carilion initially entered the urgent care business in September 2007, when it sought to divert from the crowded emergency room at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital patients who were seeking treatment for nonemergencies. Carilion opened an urgent care center inside the former emergency department at Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital.

Two years ago, Carilion opened the Westlake location.

In opening those sites, the goal wasn't to delve into the urgent care sector, but instead to meet specific needs in those two communities, Burton said.

But both proved successful and Carilion began to look at expanding the model. Currently both locations operate at capacity, with annual patient visits running about 38,000 at Community and 8,000 at Westlake, Burton said.

Carilion's decision was also partially prompted by the recent addition of urgent care centers to the market, Burton said.

Last year, urgent cares opened at two retail centers in the Roanoke Valley: UCare Health Center at Kroger Square in Bonsack and the national franchise Doctors Express at Towers Shopping Center in Roanoke.

Nationally, there has been a surge in urgent care centers opening, but it's a trend that, until recently, had not played out in the Roanoke and New River valleys.

"As a region, we have been slow to come to the table, and I think that is why there are so many urgent care groups that are interested in coming here," Burton said.

He added that a number of factors have led to the growth in urgent care, including an aging population in need of health care; the health care overhaul, which seeks to add more people to the insurance rolls; and society's demand for instant access to services.

At one point Carilion had considered joining with an outside urgent care business but ultimately decided to keep the product in-house, Burton said.

He declined to say how much Carilion is investing into launching VelocityCare, but costs include both facility upgrades and hiring about a dozen doctors and additional support staff. Tenant upgrades to the Roanoke County location will cost $210,000, according to the building permit.

Staff writer Amanda Codispoti contributed to this report.

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