NISKAYUNA — WellNow Urgent Care, one of New York State's most prolific urgent care providers, has teamed up with St. Peter's Health Partners.
The re-branding will put both company names on six current locations operated by St. Peter's and two operated by WellNow in the Capital Region; WellNow's Niskayuna and Hudson facilities will be the first centers to transition into co-branded facilities.
Principals of both health groups say more WellNow-St. Peter's urgent care spots are planned for the area.
"It brings together two very important pieces," said Dr. James K. Reed, president and CEO of St. Peter's Health Partners, after a Tuesday morning press conference announcing the move outside the WellNow Niskayuna location in Mansion Square, off Balltown Road.
"We obviously have the full continuum of care at St. Peter's Health Partners," Reed added. "WellNow has that fantastic expertise in the urgent care piece of it, where someone would first hit the health system."
Reed believes the joint venture builds on the strengths of both organizations and offers more options for prospective patients.
"If a person comes to one of the WellNow-St. Peter's locations, great if you have a problem that can be taken care of right there," he said. "But what if it needs more care than that? We'll be tied seamlessly to the rest of the St. Peter's system, information, patient, whatever care they need, we can move them smoothly through the continuum."
St. Peter's current roster of urgent care locations lists Albany, Clifton Park, Saratoga Springs, East Greenbush, St. Mary's Campus and South Troy.
Reed said more WellNow-St. Peter's centers are coming.
"We going to be expanding rapidly over the next 18 months so people will notice simply more access points for our system, through these WellNow urgent centers," he said.
Dr. John Radford, Buffalo-based president of WellNow Urgent Care, also hailed the team-up.
"It's exciting to partner with a large health system with a great reputation," he said. "Really, the name awareness they have in the community — they've been here forever, the primary care, the specialty care — and all those things we'll have access to, being within their network."
WellNow was known as Five Star Urgent Care when the group was founded in 2012. The change to WellNow took place in late 2018.
Radford said WellNow currently has 35 urgent care centers in New York, including Geneva, Oneonta, Auburn, Ithaca and Olean. "Another six will open in New York state before the end of the year," he said.
According to the WellNow website, company urgent care centers will open soon in Clifton Park, Latham, Buffalo and Dunkirk, among other locations. Twenty new centers are planned for 2020.
The centers are all open seven days a week. No appointments are needed. Medical personnel treat non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses such as burns, abrasions, dehydration, coughs, colds, sprains, strains and other emergencies.
Radford believes more people are using urgent care centers. One reason, he said, is that many people must pay high deductibles as part of their health insurance plans.
"If you were to come to an emergency department, you can expect to pay four to five times more for something you would get typically at an urgent care center," he said. "We have X-rays here, we can do sutures here, we can do a lot of the low-level things that emergency rooms can do.
"If you're having a stroke, if you can't breathe, if you think you're having a heart attack, we're not the place to stop," Radford added. "Although we do get some of those that trickle in."
WellNow has forged partnerships in other locations. Radford said his group has teamed up with Kaleida Health and Erie County Medical Center in Western New York.
Locally, WellNow will assume operations at all co-branded centers.
"At the end of the day, more of our friends and neighbors across the Capital Region will have access to quick, convenient and high-quality urgent care," Reed said. "And when they see the St. Peter's name and logo on the sign, right alongside WellNow's, patients will know they're going to receive the same high standard of compassionate quality care they have come to expect from St. Peter's Health Partners."