The urgent care center operated by LifeLong Medical Care across the street from the now-closed Doctors Medical Center will expand its hours in the hope of serving more patients, thanks to a $2 million grant from the state.
The urgent care center has been open from noon to 8 p.m. daily since the closure of the hospital in April. By expanding its hours seven days a week, the center hopes to attract more of the nearly 90 patients who used the emergency room of DMC for non-emergency medical conditions each day.
“It’s a signal that people at the state level understand that there are still issues related to the closure of the hospital,” LifeLong Executive Director Marty Lynch told the Contra Costa Times.
The funds were included in the budget signed by the Gov. Jerry Brown after lobbying by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, whose district includes San Pablo and the surrounding region.
“This is just a start, but it’s a meaningful one,” Thurmond said in a statement. “Like many in West Contra Costa County, I fought hard to keep Doctors Medical Center Open. I am committed to working with residents and health care professionals to create a long-term health care plan that includes the possibility of building a new hospital.” Thurmond said the urgent care center is hoping to use the funds to remain open until midnight each night.
DMC was forced to close after struggling financially for more than 20 years. Its closure has left West County with fewer acute care and emergency room beds, overtaxing the emergency room capabilities of the nearest remaining hospital, Kaiser Richmond.
By expanding hours, LifeLong hopes to take some of the burden off the Kaiser emergency room, particularly on weekends when Kaiser has reported a spike in patients.
LifeLong sees about 45 patients a day in its urgent care facility, and has brought on three emergency room doctors and two physician assistants from DMC to handle the patient load. While considered a success, the urgent care center is capable of handling more patients, supporters say.