Members of Shore Physicians Group, Shore Medical Center, local business leaders and politicians and members of the local community gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony Jan. 31 to celebrate the opening of Shore Urgent Care in Northfield.

Located at the site of the former House and Garden on 2605 Shore Road, the new state-of-the-art facility will work to bridge the gap between primary-care practices and the hospital emergency room, administrators said.

"It definitely fills that niche between patients (and their busy lives), where they can't get in to see their primary (doctor)," said Shore Urgent Care Medical Director John Kulin, who previously ran care centers in the Manahawkin area. "We're there to try and take care of (the community's) immediate needs."

Operating under the auspices of Shore Physicians Group (SPG), the 3,500-square-foot facility has been operating since Jan. 2, offering various services and treatments, such as general illness, injury, X-rays, lab services, EKG, pediatrics, immunizations and physicals.

Fran Morrison, administrative director at Shore Medical Center hopes the new care center will appeal to the local community of Northfield, Linwood, Pleasantville, Absecon and eventually to the neighboring shore towns in the coming summer months.

"It helps support the community for after-hours to get care when they can't get in to see their physicians and are not serious enough for the ER - and sometimes they don't have a physician," Morrison said.

Local resident Charlotte Tatum, of Atlantic City, visited the center that night, interested in meeting its staff and touring the facility. Admitting to not having a primary care physician, Tatum would visit Shore Urgent Care if necessary, she said.

"I live close by … so God forbid anything happens, this is 15 minutes from where I live," she said. "It makes me feel comfortable to come here if I ever need it."

The urgent care, currently staffed by nine, provides four exam rooms and one procedure room, as well as an electronic medical record (EMR) system, fully integrated with the rest of the Shore Physician Group, an electronic prescribing system, allowing for one-stop pharmacy visits, as well as digital X-ray machines, with the ability to offer immediate reads, administrators said.

Mark Stephens, recently appointed chief administrative officer at SPG, realizes the importance of receiving cost-efficient and helpful care.

"Things are going to change rather dramatically (in light of health care reform)," the Margate resident said. "Appropriate care … is going to become increasingly important."

Stephens continued, stating the issue of hospital emergency room seats filled with patients suffering from minor injuries and illnesses.

Long wait times, combined with high deductibles and co-payments often experienced by those going to emergency rooms, will make the urgent care a more efficient alternative, he said.

"It's more about providing the right level of care at the right time, at the right place," Stephens said.

Shore Urgent Care in Northfield requires no appointments and most insurance plans are accepted. The current hours of operation are 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. To learn more about Northfield's Shore Urgent Care, visit shoreurgentcare.org or call 609-365-5333.

Contact Caitlin Honan:

609-272-7227