The Rise of Urgent Care Centers in New York City

The new urgent care center on Broadway between 102nd and 103rd doesn’t look like a doctor’s office and definitely doesn’t look like a hospital.

With its open floor plan, plush chairs and oddly placed modern art, it looks like a upmarket lobby, in part because the designer has a background in hotels.

The waiting room at Cure Urgent Care is meant to provide a sense of calm, as is the logo out front—a green medical cross with a smile underneath.

“It’s supposed to convey the idea that it’s not supposed to hurt to get better,” said the company’s C.E.O., Jake Deutsch.

The center is open until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends, far later than the typical physician’s office, because, according to the sign outside, “life doesn’t wait for you to feel better.”

This is the public-facing part of New York’s recent boom in urgent care centers, as they compete for patients who once might have spent hours waiting to be X-rayed in an emergency room, or days for an appointment at a doctor’s office. Most anyone can stitch your finger, so clinics have to offer a little something extra, a certain ambiance, shorter wait times, if they are to change consumer behavior and lure patients away from traditional care.

This is, in many ways, a very positive development—as the centers compete to provide convenience and value, they’re also keeping people out of the emergency room, potentially saving hospitals and patients thousands of dollars on each case, and allowing E.R. personnel to focus on true emergencies.

But the flood of urgent-care entrepreneurs into New York’s wide-open market brings with it a new level of public risk.

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary