WellSpan Health is expanding hours and services at urgent care centers, including two in Lancaster County, as part of a rebranding project.
Starting on Jan. 15, 2018, the centers will be renamed WellSpan Urgent Care and will all be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
They will also all accept patients as young as 3 months old, and let patients make reservations for appointments at specific times.
Kyle McGill, WellSpan’s practice administrator for urgent care, said the hope is that increased consistency will make it easier for people to access and use the services.
Right now, the Lancaster County centers are called QuickCare, and centers in other counties are called WellSpan CareExpress and WellSpan ReadyCare.
Hours and offerings currently vary, with the local centers accepting only patients who are at least 3 years old and being open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily in Ephrata and 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in New Holland.
As WellSpan rolls out the new brand, McGill said, it will also emphasizing when urgent care is appropriate and when people should go to an emergency room or see their primary care physician.
He didn’t have an estimate for the New Holland center but said the one in Ephrata is seeing 20 to 25 patients a day, and that those numbers are expected to rise.
McGill said the reservation system started in other locations earlier this year and was introduced in Lancaster County in the last few months.
McGill also said that some of the centers are not specifically accredited as urgent cares, and that as part of the rebranding WellSpan plans to have them all accredited through Urgent Care Association of America within the first six months of 2018.
Asked the cost of the rebranding project, McGill said only, “WellSpan is investing a considerable amount of resources into this service to better meet our community and patient demands.”
Numbers are growing
According to the Urgent Care Association of America, the number of urgent care facilities jumped 10 percent in 2016, to 7,357 nationwide.
Locally, Lancaster General Health opened its first urgent care center in 2010 and added its fifth in March.
And shortly after acquiring two Lancaster County hospitals this summer, the organization now known as UPMC Pinnacle announced that it was adding AllBetterCare urgent care centers in Mechanicsburg, Carlisle and Harrisburg to its system.
Several urgent care centers not associated with health systems are also operating here, including MedExpress and Patient First.
The association’s database shows 280 urgent care centers across Pennsylvania.
By comparison, the state has 168 hospitals.