Quick health care options expand in Dayton region: What’s really going on

Dr. Ward Blair, who is in charge of the On Demand Care clinics with Kettering Health, gives a tour of a room at the latest location in the Town & Country shopping center in Kettering.  LYNDSEY CARTER
Dr. Ward Blair, who is in charge of the On Demand Care clinics with Kettering Health, gives a tour of a room at the latest location in the Town & Country shopping center in Kettering. LYNDSEY CARTER

There’s been a large expansion in the Dayton region of health care options that give quick care with no appointment needed.

A new On-Demand Care clinic in the Town & Country shopping center Kettering will open Wednesday, joining three other similar clinics operated by Kettering Health and join at least 15 other quick care locations that opened in the last five years in the region.

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“We’re here for the simple same-day type things that you might go to your regular doctor for, but maybe they’re not available or the time is not convenient for your schedule,” said Dr. Ward Blair, who manages the new On-Demand Care clinics. Kettering Health also operates similar clinics in Springboro, Centerville and Washington Twp.

This sharp growth in quick care has been happening nationally.

In 2019, there were about 8,700 urgent cares now in the U.S., up from 6,400 in 2014, according to the Urgent Care Association.

Urgent care centers aren’t the only convenient care seeing increased use. Fair Health, a nonprofit that focuses on health costs, reported from 2018 to 2019, telehealth increased in utilization by 73% urgent care centers by 47%, retail clinics by 39%. Emergency room use was up by 33%.

Along with the Kettering Health On-Demand Care, Premier Health added seven urgent cares starting early 2018. Dayton Children’s Hospital opened three retail-style clinics from late 2019 to early 2020 in the southern Dayton suburbs and toward the northern Cincinnati metro, and the pediatric hospital also opened a Huber Heights urgent care in late 2018.

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In addition, Kettering Health formed an agreement with Kroger’s Little Clinics, which makes it easy to share information at a patient’s request if a referral is made to Kettering Health affiliated practices.

Allan Baumgarten, author of the Ohio Health Market Review, which analyzes market trends, said opening urgent cares, retail clinics, and free standing emergency departments, all help health systems with the strategy of expanding their geographical reach. He said they often look for zip codes where incomes are above average and where many people have employer-sponsored health coverage, which pays higher rates than Medicaid or Medicare.

“Those are the target audiences for these new services that are being opened in these areas,” Baumgarten said.

He said younger generations in particular seem to approve of these options.

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“For a lot of them, the retail clinic or the urgent care has been a good experience,” Baumgarten said.

Blair, speaking at a tour of the new facility, said the on-demand care is part of the same service line as primary care physicians in the system and is a good option for minor conditions when you can get in right away to see your primary care provider. The co-pay is the same as with primary care and the two settings can share information and coordinate with each other.

“For a bladder infection, rash, cough, or let’s say your son produces the sports physical form the day before it’s due, and they forgot to tell you about it, we can see you and take care of that. And then we share all the notes with your regular doctor,” Blair said.

While convenient care options have been more concentrated to the suburbs, there have been some walk-in options added in the city.

Primary Health Solutions added an express care a little over a year ago to their new health hub in the Grafton neighborhood in Dayton. Five Rivers Health Centers also holds clinic hours in the Gem City Market, which opened in May along lower Salem Avenue.

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