Physicians Immediate Care capitalizes on need for quick treatment

Melissa Westphal

Coughs and sneezes, even broken bones and bruises, are increasingly being treated by medical personnel at immediate-care clinics, and one local organization has expanded its practice into Chicago and beyond.

Physicians Immediate Care opened its first clinic in Rockford in 1987, when four emergency room physicians at SwedishAmerican Hospital recognized a need for immediate care options other than hospital emergency rooms.

The group now sees about 150,000 patients a year at 12 locations, including Chicago, Niles and Bolingbrook. The clinics offer walk-in appointments and evening and weekend hours for patients who need treatment when their primary doctor’s office is closed and before they want to spend more time and money in a hospital emergency room.

“We have a niche market,” said John Koehler, one of the group’s founders. “We fit in the crack between primary care and the emergency room.”

The four treated patients at the original location for five years before opening a second Rockford site.

Then officials expanded to Machesney Park, Loves Park and Belvidere. Their first venture into Chicago opened in 2003.

The Urgent Care Association of America lists more than 8,000 urgent care centers in the U.S., about 25 percent of which are owned by hospitals. The rest are independently and corporate-owned.

Immediate-care officials most commonly treat patients for coughs, sore throats and body aches, said John Koehler, one of the four original doctors. But patients also come in with chest pains and stroke symptoms because the clinics are close to their homes. If necessary, clinic doctors can transfer patients to the closest hospital.

The clinics treat basic flu and cold symptoms but also can address allergic reactions, sprains and fractures, minor burns, cuts, abrasions and lacerations. You can get an X-ray there, and the clinics are equipped with small pharmacies.

Physicians Immediate Care is also known for school and work physicals, immunizations, occupational medicine, and drug and alcohol testing. The Machesney Park clinic also has a medical weight-loss program.

Koehler runs the operation today with Terry Buzzard and David Stern.

Barb Farrey of Loves Park stopped at the Machesney Park clinic on Wednesday night because of a red eye, which Buzzard told her was caused by a broken blood vessel. It was her first visit to a Physicians Immediate Care clinic, and she was treated and released in less than 30 minutes.

“I called my doctor, and it was too late to get in,” Farrey said. “My daughter had a six-hour wait in the ER recently. I would definitely take advantage of coming here again.”

Buzzard called Farrey’s case a “classic immediate care” example.

“There are different cases every day, but there are set hours. You don’t have to be on call 24/7, 365 days a year,” he said.

Melissa Westphal can be reached at (815) 987-1341

Where to find them

Rockford Morsay Clinic

Opened April 15, 1987

4350 Morsay Drive

Rockford South Alpine Clinic

Opened April 1, 1992

3475 S. Alpine Road

Machesney Park Clinic

Opened July 15, 1996

11475 N. Second St.

Loves Park Clinic

Opened May 1, 2000

1000 E. Riverside Blvd.

Belvidere Clinic

First opened Oct. 10, 2000; moved into current building Feb. 1, 2007

1663 Belvidere Road

Chicago Six Corners Clinic

Opened Jan. 2, 2003

4211 N. Cicero Ave.

Oklahoma Clinic

Opened July 16, 2006

2334 S.E. Washington Blvd., Bartlesville, Okla.

Joliet Clinic

Opened Aug. 16, 2006

1360 Houbolt Road

Chicago Loop Clinic

Opened Oct. 23, 2006

600 W. Adams St.

Elgin Clinic

Opened Sept. 24, 2007

2490 Bushwood Drive, Unit F

Niles Clinic

Opened June 2

8965 W. Golf Road

Bolingbrook Clinic

Opened July 7

391 S. Bolingbrook Drive