A closed Pizza Hut building in Wildwood has gotten out of the business of urgent deliveries to move into the business of urgent care.

Contractors for Cape Regional Medical Center are converting the old restaurant, on the main access route between Wildwood and the mainland, into an urgent-care center run by the hospital.

The goal is to open the center on West Rio Grande Avenue by late spring, said Dr. John Ruskey, medical director for Cape Regional’s urgent-care operations.

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Wildwood will be the second such facility for Cape Regional, along with one in Cape May Court House, the hospital’s hometown. That center opened in 2010 in the Acme shopping plaza.

The main draw of the old Pizza Hut — which closed as a restaurant last summer — “was its location more than anything,” Ruskey said. “That’s the gateway to Wildwood, and it’s convenient for all the people who live on the island. … We’re there for the Wildwoods with an S, not just Wildwood singular.”

But, he added, “We also hope to serve people in Cape May and North Cape May” and more of southern Cape May County.

Ruskey, who also is an emergency-room doctor, knows many potential patients wonder about when to go to an urgent-care facility and when they need a full-scale hospital emergency room.

Urgent care is designed to treat “an illness or injury that needs attention within a 24-hour period, whereas an emergency requires immediate attention,” he said. Ruskey described it as the “difference between a heart attack or a stroke … and a laceration or strep throat.”

Someone with those latter conditions is “a person who would actually benefit from going to urgent care” and not the emergency room, he said.

Ruskey added the doctors at Cape Regional’s urgent-care centers are board-certified, and others on the staff have emergency-room experience. So do the nurses.

And for patients, he knows emergency rooms are “not always the best experience. You may have to wait for people with more serious conditions. ... The ER is designed take all comers. We can’t specify who uses it.”

But urgent-care centers can put more focus on comfort and convenience. “They were specifically designed just to treat urgent problems, and we’re so much more efficient — 95 percent of patients are seen within an hour,” Ruskey said. “They’re seen quicker because we’re not doing more extensive care. But we have our own in-house digital X-rays and an in-house lab for certain blood tests.”

To further distinguish between care levels, Ruskey added, “If you have a fractured femur or hip, you probably want to go to the emergency room. But for minor fractures, a hand or an ankle, we can do the X-rays right there, then have those images digitally sent to a radiologist at the hospital and get the results back within 20, 30 minutes,” and then give the proper care.

Cape Regional is taking care to fit into its new neighborhood, right down to paying tribute to the Wildwoods’ signature doo-wop architecture and design.

“The basic shape (of the old restaurant) won’t change, but we’re going to put our own finishing touches on it,” Ruskey said. “We’ll put a brand new sign on it that’s going to match the doo-wop signs of the Wawa and the TD Bank next to it.”

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