By Cliff B. Lewis
Since February of last year, Urgent Care Center Lancaster has been providing emergency health care services at a fraction of the typical hospital Emergency Room (ER) costs. On average, visitors spend 40 minutes at the Urgent Care Center (UCC), as opposed to sometimes hours spent waiting in the ER — or perhaps even the string of days spent waiting for an appointment with a family doctor.
The costs are roughly comparable to doctor appointments.
'Urgent Care' facilities exist all across the nation to handle non-life-threatening emergencies without the congested waiting rooms and bloated bills of the ER. In Lancaster County, however, there is only one such facility.
Two years ago, Dennis T. Penny Jr. experienced a minor bicycle accident, requiring six stitches and a tetanus shot. When Penny received the $2,500 bill, he was certain that something in the local health care system needed to change. That's why, last year, Penny opened up UCC Lancaster, now jointly owned by himself, Dr. Mark Cohen, and Dr. John Ginder.
In the first months of operation, UCC Lancaster was seeing but four patients each day; now they are seeing close to fifteen. In Penny's mind, this growth has been all about spreading the word. At first, the majority of patients were out-of-town visitors well-acquainted with Urgent Care services: "They don’t go to the ER. They come to the Urgent Care centers," Penny notes.
As more local residents learn that there is a cheaper and more convenient alternative to the ER, UCC Lancaster expects to grow busier. If growth is consistent, Penny is hoping to open three or four more centers in Central PA within the next year.
The UCC opens its doors to those with minor emergencies who cannot be quickly served by their family doctor. For the uninsured, the center offers reasonable pricing with a simple flat rate and the possibility of payment plans, when necessary. The center provides most of the services offered by the ER, with the exception of X-Rays—although, plans are in the works to obtain the necessary equipment.
When asked if the Center would someday be open 24 / 7, Penny responded that the busiest period for Urgent Care facilities are in the evening hours, not at night.
Urgent Care Center Lancaster is located at 1821 Oregon Pike, behind Susquehanna Bank and next to McDonald’s. Service is available from 12-8pm on weekdays and 10am-6pm during the weekend. The center plans to expand its hours in the near future.
Additional information or scheduling of an appointment are available at their web site.