For those who have a swollen ankle from a softball match or feel the enflamed, painful pulse of an ear infection, a new healthcare option has opened up in Wheaton.
Since Monday morning, the MedStar PromptCare urgent care center in the Wheaton Park Center off Georgia Avenue has added its services to others in the area for nonemergency injuries and illnesses.
The center, which is expected to see around 1,500 patients each month, currently includes six exam rooms, laboratory space and X-ray capabilities and is staffed by one physician.
Six additional rooms in the center are scheduled to open in a couple months for specialist care.
As a part of the MedStar Health system, the urgent care center will be working closely with the MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney.
“I think the differentiator for us is we are, I think, the only urgent care network that’s going to be connected to a hospital,” said Bob Gilbert, president of MedStar ambulatory services.
Ulana Bilynsky — assistant vice president of ambulatory development for MedStar — said the center will offer another option for people who are unable to see their usual doctor quickly and are not emergency cases.
“I think that there’s a need for primary care physicians sort of throughout the region,” Bilynsky said.
The center is aiming to be quick and convenient for patients, she added.
“This is all about not having to go to an ED [emergency department] and wait for six hours,” she said.
If necessary, the center’s physicians will refer patients to MedStar’s Olney hospital, and occasionally other MedStar hospitals, as well as local physicians outside the MedStar network.
“We do provide a service for the primary care physicians in the community, because they can send their patient here to be seen if they don’t have the ability to do that for a patient, and we’ll send the patients back to them,” Bilynsky said.
Dr. Edward Kimlin, the center’s lead physician whose experience includes emergency and sports medicine, said that while the center can not call itself a sports medicine facility, “I think extra specially we’re really trying to gear ourselves as an injury, sportsy sort of place,” Kimlin said.
Kimlin said that the support the center will have from people responsible for “the next step” — such as from an orthopedist or a physical therapist — is something he has not seen in the other systems he has worked in.
He said he also has met with other physicians in the area, who he said have responded well to the possibility of referrals from the center.
“I think the reality is most of the physicians in this area are excellent, so I think you can go to any urgent care and get a good doctor to treat you today,” he said. “What I think we’re going to excel in is what needs to be done tomorrow.”
State Del. Al Carr (D-District 18), who attended the center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, said he expects to use the center as a father of three young, active sons.
“I see this as a wonderful way to expand access to healthcare. There’s a need for services like this, and MedStar is providing it in a location that’s very convenient and at times that are very convenient,” Carr said.