CEO: Urgent care is cheaper

MILFORD – The most noticeable change when Milford Medical Center switched from emergency services to urgent care was not medical, but financial, said president and CEO of St. Joseph Healthcare Dr. Rich Boehler on Monday night to the few people who attended an information session at the Amato Center.

Milford’s emergency room became an urgent care center on Sunday, Dec. 8.

“There was very little difference between Saturday and Sunday,” he said, and over the past 30 years the vast majority of cases coming to Milford’s emergency room were “from common ailments that can be treated in urgent care.” Over the past year, the center was seeing only one ambulance a week.

“Milford Medical Center was a de facto urgent care center for a long time,” Boehler said.

What has changed is the co-payment, which is much less for urgent care.

In a “bone fide emergency” like a heart attack, he said, a $150 co-pay is not consequential, but for a laceration, for example, “urgent care is an inexpensive option.”

Heart attacks and other serious emergency cases have been going to Nashua, anyway, he said

Boehler was accompanied by Dr. James Martin, head of medical services in Milford, Jim McKenna, vice president for ambulatory services for St. Joseph Hospital and public relations staff. Only about three members of the public attended, and they had questions about the new 16,000-square-foot facility that will replace the medical center’s building on Nashua Street.

St. Joseph is hoping the plans are approved by January so workers can break ground in the spring, Boehler said, and medical services will continue functioning while the new building is being constructed.

All laboratory and primary care services will continue, he said, and St. Joseph is recruiting another family practitioner for Milford.

The only feature that will be absent from the new building is the heated physical therapy pool, which would have cost $500,000, Boehler said.

Urgent care facilities are walk-in offices that typically treat cuts, sprains, simple fractures, infections and other conditions that don’t threaten life and limb.

Milford Medical Center’s urgent care is now open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.