Left to right: Dr. Michael Gruenthal, Dr. Stephen Hassett and Danielle Bradt stand inside Albany Med’s newest 5,254-square foot urgent care facility in Glenmont. (Photo by Michael Hallisey/TheSpot518)
GLENMONT — Albany Medical Center is preparing to open its eighth urgent care facility at the Town Squire Plaza, at 329 Glenmont Road.
The 5,254-square-foot satellite service unit will be the hospital’s eight such facility when it opens its doors on Sunday, Oct. 1.
“The concept is to provide for a need that is lacking amongst the primary care docs,” said Dr. Stephen Hassett, chief of Albany Med’s Division of Urgent Care and Community Outreach. “When the primaries don’t have enough time in their schedules to see the acute care visits. … So, this is a matter of convenience to the patient, as well as relieving the stress from the ER from the simple things that are seen in the ER that could be handled by a site like this.”
The $500,000 facility is expected to operate in similar fashion to the hospital’s other satellite locations. The building will employ a dozen professionals, equipped to treat patients within a half-hour visit. In addition to helping patients with sprains and fractures, or ear, nose and throat ailments, the facility will provide occupational health evaluation services, too. Opened everyday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the hospital expects to handle an average of 60 patients a day.
Dr. Michael Gruenthal, president of the Albany Med Faculty Physicians Group, said the Town Squire Plaza location “strategically” made sense.
“We strategically place our emurgent care facilities mostly for patient convenience,” said Gruenthal. “We tend to look at areas like this. Not necessarily densely populated, but heavily trafficked areas that are close to residential communities.”
The Town Squire Plaza site hits both of Gruenthal’s points, in addressing both population and traffic flow. Gruenthal confirmed that the growing residential developments throughout Bethlehem. Since the 2010 U.S. Census, the Albany suburb’s population has grown by 5 percent. That figure nearly contrasts against the county’s overall growth of .13 percent within the same time period. Specifically to U.S. Route 9W, which passes by the plaza, Bethlehem’s Town Board identified the surrounding area’s potential for significant development in its 2005 Comprehensive Plan.
The facility will be located at the town’s most congested intersection of U.S. Route 9W, Feura Bush and Glenmont roads. No significant upgrades have been made to the intersection since several housing developments and retail centers — including a Walmart and Lowes just north of the intersection — were erected over the past 15 years. However, an approved $3.9 million roundabout is expected to alleviate traffic congestion in the coming years.
Like the hospital’s seven other urgent care facilities, the medical staff is trained in several industry requirements to complete physicals. The location also aides in addressing emergency medicine deserts prevalent in rural America.
“Many times people underestimate how much EmUrgentCare can handle apart from a cold or minor illnesses,” said Danielle Bradt, practice administrator for Albany Med EmUrgentCare. “For example, we have digital x-ray on site, we can treat brakes and sprains as well as serious laceration repairs.” When the unit opens in October, its immediate impact will be on Glenmont, Delmar and all of Bethlehem. However, when factored into Albany Med’s network of facilities, it includes similar facilities in Niskayuna, Mechanicvlle, Brunswick, Colonie, Glenville, and Saugerties. All areas experiencing, or expecting to see, more residential development. And, in cases like Coxsackie, where Albany Med opened an urgent care, the nearest hospital is Columbia Memorial, across the river in Hudson, 27 miles away.
For Hassett, who first envisioned the EmUrgentCare model is concept he started nearly 15 years ago, he said the network just made “a lot of sense.”
“Placing facilities closer to where people live is a concept that makes a lot of sense from a decongestion perspective and a convenience perspective,” he said.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.