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Urgent Care Center now open in downtown Storrs

By Alban Murtishi
On March 25, 2014

Student, staff or citizen are all welcome to visit the Urgent Care Health Center which opened its doors on Monday to the sick and injured. The center is supported by the John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington, and is an extension of the UConn Health Center and Infirmary.
The Urgent Care Center deals with non life-threatening injuries, general illnesses, testing and vaccination. What makes the center especially unique is that they accept walk-ins, meaning anyone off the street with insurance will be cared for by professionals, and almost every form of insurance - Medicare, Medicaid and foreign based - is accepted.
The center is staffed by one full-time doctor, a medical director, three physicians assistants and a radiologist. However, these initial services and staff sizes are only the beginning.
"As we ramp up we probably will bring more specialists," said Jessica Underwood, the center's ancillary services manager.
More specifically, by July the Urgent Care Center will offer dental services, staffed by the top ranking School of Dental Medicine professors. By the fall, the center will offer psychiatric and dermatological services as well.
"We felt there was a need out here, you guys don't have a very close emergency center near campus," Underwood said. "We're hoping to be very useful to the community."
Frank La Sala, the acting medical director for the Urgent Care Center, explained some of the services the new establishment hopes to offer.
"We're trying to make this an urgent care that just handles more than just the basic colds and flus," La Sala said. "We want to be more than a basic care center, which includes doing complex lacerations, and starting IVs for hydration instead of just sending people to the emergency rooms."
However, the center is not for life threatening cases.
"We won't treat emergency based medicine, like a heart attack," Underwood said.
With services like the Infirmary already available to students, the Urgent Care Center may appear almost redundant. However, the center and Infirmary are working in conjunction to fill certain gaps in the services they provide. For example, the Infirmary is not available to students whenever school in not in session, whereas the Urgent Care Center is. Conversely, the Urgent Care Center cannot monitor students overnight, whereas the Infirmary can.
The genesis of the Urgent Care Center lies in the fact that colleges across the nation are finding their infirmaries becoming stressed with growing student populations and injuries, and institutions like the Urgent Care Center help to alleviate some of those stresses, and provide more services.
The success of the Urgent Care Center will rely on the growth of their patient base, and the word of their professionalism spread through the internet.
"Once the doctors get known around here, parents can Google them and see that their child's injuries can be taken care of here," La Sala said.
The center enjoyed a very successful first day with seven patients checking in, and composed a mixture of students and non-student faculty. Two of the first-day patients were a construction worker and an employee from a surrounding restaurant.
"We're open to anyone near or far who wants to come here." Underwood said.

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