"We’re very excited," said Becky Anderson, Kingsport regional director for Wellmont Medical Associates. "This is a long time coming in Kingsport for us."
The urgent care center was created in response to patient demand, said Karen Williams, executive director of Wellmont Medical Associates. It opened its doors Feb. 25 with the expectation that it would be as popular among patients as Wellmont’s urgent care centers in Abingdon, Va., and Johnson City, Tenn. And, as soon as it opened on Monday, it was busy.
"Our patients have asked for this over and over and over again," Williams said. "We opened our first one in Johnson City two years ago. We opened our second one in Abingdon a year and a half ago. I think we were just overwhelmed, especially in Abingdon, with the response."
Williams said she’s received numerous phone calls and e-mails from patients who’d been traveling dozens of miles to the Abingdon and Johnson City urgent care centers to get their care from Wellmont instead of its competitors.
Though each of those clinics started with just one physician, a second medical provider was added in response to patient volume - and both urgent care centers are now being expanded.
"I don’t anticipate anything different here," Williams said.
The new urgent care center is under the direction of longtime Kingsport physician Dr. Jason Brazee, and is staffed by both a physician and a registered nurse at all times. The facility is decorated in earth colors, and Anderson said great care was taken to make the décor feel home-like and aesthetically pleasing - not institutional.
Holston Valley Medical Center’s occupational medicine center has also moved to the new urgent care facility, where it is staffed by Dr. E.C. Goulding. In addition to handling minor workplace injuries, Goulding said, the facility is able to provide a full array of occupational medicine services, including pre-employment physicals and drug and alcohol screening.
"We will be working closely with the companies to prevent them from having any lost-time injuries and to decrease the number of reportable injuries," Goulding said.
Wellmont Medical Associates is affiliated with Wellmont Health System. It operates 61 clinics in the Tri-Cities and Southwest Virginia and has 160 providers.
Williams said she believes the strong interest in having a Kingsport urgent care center is because of the Wellmont brand. She said part of urgent care’s popularity is the cost savings when compared with emergency department visits.
"For minor illnesses and injuries, if you can use the urgent care instead of the emergency department, that saves everybody money," Anderson said.
Just a block from the emergency department at Holston Valley Medical Center, the new urgent care facility will soon share a patient record system in common with the hospital to help ensure continuity of care.
"Our mission is to provide superior health care with compassion," Williams said, "and at urgent care, we add expediency."
The urgent care center is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.