March 4, 2013

Five Star Urgent Care Facility Opens in Ithaca

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Five Star Urgent Care celebrated its grand opening in Ithaca Monday, promising shorter wait times than hospitals to the Ithaca community.

The Ithaca center — one of three Five Star Urgent Care facilities in the country — has been in the works for about six months, said Dr. John Radford, the company’s founder and owner.

“We felt, looking at the number of people in the population, that Ithaca could use additional walk-in services and urgent care services,” Radford said.

The company had received word-of-mouth feedback from healthcare providers in the community that there had been “logjams” with the number of people needing care, he said, adding that “some of it’s a gut feeling” about what areas need another healthcare provider.

“There was a definite need for [urgent care],” said Dr. Louanne Tenkate, Five Star Urgent Care’s regional medical director, who will work at the Ithaca center. According to Radford, there is only one other urgent care center in Ithaca — Cayuga Convenience Care.

Compared to hospital emergency rooms, Five Star centers offer “significantly lower” rates and wait time, according to the company’s website. Additionally, Five Star Urgent Care aims to make its centers customer service-based, Radford said.

“People value their time, so our average wait time is 15 minutes to be seen by a provider, and you’re in and out within 45 minutes,” he said. “Compare that to an emergency department, where you’re lucky if you’re seen within an hour.”

Urgent Care centers like Five Star manage “urgent but not too urgent” conditions like respiratory infections, lacerations and dehydration, according to Tenkate.

At any time of the day, the Ithaca center will be staffed with either a physician or a physician’s assistant, she said.

Five Star has two other locations in Big Flats, N.Y. and Jamestown, N.Y. and will open a fourth location in Syracuse, N.Y. this spring.

In Big Flats, the Center sees between 40 and 50 patients a day. Its difficult, however, to predict how much traffic the Ithaca center will experience, Tenkate said.

Tenkate also said the staff for Five Star centers look forward to helping the community.

“We want to make it convenient for students to come down here and get great care,” she said.

Original Author: Sarah Cutler