Urgent Care Chain Adds Links in St. Louis Area



Doctors Express, a chain of urgent care facilities, has just opened its first St. Louis-area location at 11648 Manchester Road in Des Peres, right down the street, it turns out, from another independent urgent care facility.

So what makes Doctors Express so darned special?

"There's a level of consistency to the process," says Ray Hanley, the director of the Des Peres facility. "You get the same care here as you would at a facility in, say, North Carolina."

Urgent care, Hanley observes, is a boom market right now.

"ER's are crowded," he says. "It takes a long time to get in and out and it's expensive. And if it's not a heart attack or something of similar severity, a lot of patients shouldn't be there. The doctors [at Doctors Express] are the same as you would see [in an ER], but quicker and at a fraction of the cost."

Hanley also presents urgent care as an alternative to seeing a primary care physician, observing that a lot of people -- mostly younger ones -- don't even have a primary care doctor. "At urgent care, you can see a doctor immediately," he says. "There's an almost desperate need for patients to have somewhere to go."

Dr. Peggy Petralia, a former ER doctor, will handle the patients.

Doctors Express is the country's first network of primary care facilities. It was the brainchild of Dr. Scott Burger and Peter Ross, former college roommates, who started up their first clinic in Maryland in 2005 and recently began selling franchise rights. There are now 28 franchises, and Hanley says there will be 40 by the end of the first quarter of 2011, including one in Creve Coeur, scheduled to open in March.

The Des Peres facility has four exam rooms, plus X-ray equipment. It's also equipped to dispense medicine. "Not heavy drugs," Hanley warns. "It'll be a lot of amoxicillin. For heavier drugs, we'll need to write a prescription. I hate to use the phrase 'one-stop shopping.'"

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