Most of us don’t enjoy seeing a doctor, but when we must, we want it to be affordable, quick and convenient. Consumer demand has driven a boom in recent years of healthcare facilities with extended hours that are located in or near high-traffic retail centers. Westchase District has two of them on Westheimer Road: one is an urgent care clinic within walking distance of a grocery store and the other is a new freestanding emergency room built on the site of what used to be a popular casual dining restaurant.
Urgent Doc is a walk-in urgent care clinic located in the Woodlake Square Shopping Center at 9668 Westheimer, next to the Flagship Randalls supermarket. Seeing patients since 2013, Urgent Doc accepts patients without appointments from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., 365 days a year. “The average visit, from walk in to walk out, lasts between 30 to 45 minutes, so you can be seen and treated over your lunch hour,” said Don Battle, director of business development and marketing for Urgent Clinics of America, Urgent Doc’s parent company.
Manned by either an M.D., physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner, along with a nurse and front-desk assistant, staff are able to treat everything from infections to broken bones and administer immunizations and vaccinations. “We can suture cuts and wounds, take digital x-rays, perform echocardiograms, run intravenous fl uids – we’ve even once delivered a baby here at the clinic,” Battle said.
Battle added that many area businesses use Urgent Doc to treat on-the-job injuries, perform employee physicals, and conduct drug screenings and breath alcohol testing. “We also do a lot of physicals and sports participation screenings for the local schools – they’re only $25,” he said. For self-pay patients, Urgent Doc offers three tiers of discounted pricing – $99, $169 and $249 – depending on whether X-rays or bloodwork are needed. “Because we don’t have any facility fees or hidden costs, the most you’ll ever pay when you visit us is $249.” he said. “We also have a membership program, where for $35 per month, you pay $10 to be seen at any of our eight clinics throughout Texas. Even if you have health insurance, it can add up to big savings, depending on how often you visit our clinics.”
Cost savings, along with convenience, are what Battle said he thinks account for the success of Urgent Doc during the past fi ve years. “With retail medicine storefronts like ours, you don’t have to miss work and mess with appointments, parking garages or long wait times,” he said. “You’re in, you’re out and you’re on your way to feeling better.”
If, however, you feel that you’re dealing with a life-threatening condition, then you may want to consider SignatureCare Emergency Center, a new 8,000 square-foot freestanding emergency room that recently opened at 11103 Westcheimer (at the southwest corner of Westheimer and Wilcrest Drive).
The center is staff ed 24/7 with board-certifi ed physicians and is equipped with a full laboratory, plus X-ray, ultrasound and CT equipment to treat most adult and pediatric medical emergencies. “We’re able to treat heart attacks and strokes, as well as injuries, abdominal pain, burns, pneumonia and more,” said Jennifer Bower, SignatureCare’s facility nurse manager. “We believe we can help offl oad some of the workload of the busy surrounding hospitals and give people in the area access to comprehensive care without the wait. Our goal is for you to be seen within 10 minutes. Customers had to wait longer than that to be served when this was a restaurant.”
For decades, the corner building had been home to former dining spots such as Houston’s and J. Alexander’s, before SignatureCare converted it into an ER. Jennifer Martin, SignatureCare’s digital marketing manager, said repurposing the location brought considerable challenges.
“We had to stabilize the entire slab and raise the fl oor by 18 inches so it could withstand the weight of our radiology equipment, which sits on the old kitchen space,” she said. “Also, the building had no sprinkler system so we had to run piping from the road to the building, which meant shutting down a lane of Westheimer for almost a week in order to complete the project.”
Bower said while admissions have steadily increased since opening, some visitors have shown up simply to see what’s become of the former eatery. “We’ve had people just come in to visit and look around who’ve said, ‘Oh, I once had a drink over there!’ or ‘I had a steak on the patio,’” she said. “We tell them that while we don’t serve sirloins, we’re here to provide white-glove concierge medicine and give them quality care.”
When to choose which option
In general, urgent care is a good choice for dehydration, stitches and most primary care complaints. Emergency rooms are best equipped to evaluate chest pains, numbness or slurred speech, seizures and head or eye injuries. ER facilities may be more expensive than urgent care clinics; it’s a good idea to check fi rst with your healthcare insurance provider and know your options before you find yourself in an urgent, or emergent, situation.
Urgent Doc Urgent Care Clinic
9668 Westheimer Road
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
SignatureCare Emergency Center
11103 Westheimer Road
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week