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Two Urgent Care Centers Spring Up in Creve Coeur

St. Luke's opened in October; Doctors Express is set for soft open this week.

Six months ago, there were no stand alone urgent care centers located in Creve Coeur. This week, there will be two.

Doctors Express is set for a soft open on North New Ballas Rd. Monday. Ceremonial opening events are scheduled for early March. “We’re excited to be opening up in Creve Coeur,” said Peter R. DeLuca, Jr. “It’s been a long time in the making. We’re excited to bring this new concept to St. Louis.”

Founded in Baltimore in 2005, Doctors Express has been expanding across the country. It arrived in St. Louis last month with a location in Des Peres. The two St. Louis area offices are part of a three state region for Doctors Express. A Cape Girardeau location opened last summer, which DeLuca said is doing very well with a per day patient count in the mid-30s. That figure can jump as high as 60 on the weekends.

He thinks Creve Coeur is a great location and hopes for similar success here.

“We would love to see that,” he said. “We don’t know what to expect but we’re expecting big things because of the area that we’re in.”

About 15 people will be employed at the new establishment, which will provide non-emergency care for injuries and other acute non-life-threatening problems on a walk-in basis. It takes most insurance plans including Medicare but does not accept Missouri Medicaid.

Dr. Bernie Ranchero, regional medical director, said that the idea is to provide service at less cost than an emergency room and get patients in to see the doctor quickly – on average in about 20 minutes.

“We’re really here to offer access and quality of care but more importantly, we’re here to deliver an excellent patient experience in terms of convenience, cost effective medicine and competent care,” he said.

Doctors Express can provide a number of different services including on-site X-rays and a lab. Ultrasounds, MRIs and CT scans can be provided through arrangements with a nearby imaging center.

“We consider ourselves an extension of primary care,” said DeLuca. “We’re not out to take any patients from primary care docs. We’ll work with those physicians. We’ll get their overflow and we want to get their weekend and after hours.”

Doctors Express isn’t the only addition to the city’s urgent care marketplace. In October, opened on Olive Blvd. at Old Ballas just blocks away. “When this opportunity became available, we jumped on it,” said registered nurse Linda Hayden, St. Luke's administrative director in Creve Coeur. St. Luke's operates six facilities in the St. Louis area.

“Business has been very good,” said Hayden. “The Creve Coeur location has been excellent for us.”

Hayden said the facility offers X-rays and lab facilities.

“We also offer lab and radiology services to physicians in the community so a physician office can write an order for a lab test or radiology test and send their patient into our center so we do a lot on what we call the outpatient side as well,” she said.

Hayden said she couldn’t disclose patient volume but noted that the center was “plenty busy” during its 12-hour operational day.

“Wait times are certainly much, much less than in an emergency room,” she said. “The goal for each of our centers is 65 minutes to have you in and out. We accomplish that probably 95 percent of the time.”

She said that after more than a quarter century in business, St. Luke’s experience is a key to their performance.

“We like to think we were first on the scene of urgent care in the St. Louis area and we provide quality care with board certified physicians and registered nurses working at our centers,” she said. “Quality care is our mission.”

Both establishments will always have a physician on-site for patients during business hours.

DeLuca said he hopes that the two establishments can help each other out. In Cape Girardeau, he said Doctors Express developed a mutually beneficial relationship with another urgent care center.

“They send us patients, their overflow – and we do the same for them,” he said.

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