Editor’s Note: Since this podcast aired, DHR Health has announced it has opened its Urgent Care Center in Mission, Texas. Click here for more information.

EDINBURG, Texas – There is a trend among hospital groups to introduce smaller facilities such as micro hospitals, stand alone emergency rooms, and urgent care centers.

DHR Health is putting its emphasis on urgent care centers, making the case that they are more affordable. They have so far opened such centers in Edinburg and McAllen and are slated to open another one in Mission in mid-February.

In the attached podcast, Dr. Carlos Cardenas, chairman and co-founder of DHR Health, and Dr. Cruz Alberto Bernal, a family medicine physician at DHR, make the case for urgent care centers.

Dr. Carlos Cardenas

“I don’t really want patients to come to my hospital for primary care,” Dr. Cardenas said. “If they can achieve their goal of maintaining health or preventing a health issue and we can make that happen at times when they cannot see their primary care physician, or if they don’t have a primary care physician, the access should be through an urgent care center.”

Cardenas argued that urgent care facilities are more affordable and provide the services that are needed in an accessible way.

Asked about free-sanding emergency departments, Cardenas said: “I call it expensive care, not urgent care. Urgent care is accessible and affordable, free standing emergency care is expensive care for the same heath care delivery.”

Dr. Bernal said: “About two-thirds of the ER visits in the U.S. could be treated in an urgent care facility.”

Dr. Cruz Alberto Bernal

DHR Health recently opened urgent care services at at 1421 Col. Rowe Blvd., McAllen. They have another such center on Dove Avenue in Edinburg.

Speaking of urgent care centers, Dr. Juan M. Padilla, chief of neuroscience at DHR Health, said a physician or nurse practitioner will treat patients with high quality medical care and no appointment is necessary. Among the patient services available at an urgent care center are laboratory, x-ray imaging, illnesses, minor injuries, diagnostic testing and physical exams.

The Rio Grande Guardian interviewed Dr. Padilla at the opening of the facility on Col. Rowe Blvd.

“The intention of an urgent care facility is to see patients that are non-life threatening conditions. For example, lacerations of the skin, the flu, sickness and diarrhea, these are the sort of things you would come to an urgent care facility for,” Padilla said.

“In a way we are an extension of the private doctor’s office. During the weekends, when the doctor’s office is closed, this is where you can come. At night also, when your doctor’s office is closed. But, this is not the place to come for acute strokes. You should go to an emergency room because it is a question of time.”

Dr. Juan M. Padilla, chief of neuroscience at DHR Health, is pictured at his health system’s urgent care center on Col. Rowe Blvd., in McAllen.

Padilla added: “We have excellent doctors at our urgent care centers but for life-threatening conditions, you should go to the emergency rooms.”

Padilla said any patient can visit an urgent care center, not only those that go to DHR Health.

“There are no restrictions. The pricing is going to be ten percent less than emergency rooms.”