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St. Louis Area Sees Rise in Urgent Care Centers

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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

CBS St. Louis (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSStL.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSStL.com/Health

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The urgent care industry is the fastest growing segment of America’s health care system and locations are popping up throughout the St. Louis area.

“If they do have a co-pay it will be about four times as much in the ER than it would be for an urgent care,” says emergency room physician Sonny Saggar. He operates four area urgent care locations, including a new one opening this week in north St. Louis.

Nationally, the urgent care segment has grown sixty percent over the past five years.

Local hospitals noted the trend from the ER to urgent care. Mercy Hospital now operates eight urgent care locations and SSM Health Care will soon have four.

“They basically decided ‘let’s get in on this act,'” Saggar says.

Sagger says during his most recent hospital ER shift, nearly every case could have been handled at an urgent care center.

“I think more and more people are discovering that they don’t need to go to the emergency room for everything,” he said. “The ‘e’ doesn’t stand for ‘everything,’ it stands for ‘emergency’ which means a life-threatening condition or a limb-threatening condition whereas almost everything else can go to the urgent care.”

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