Cure Urgent Care opened their third location

Dr Jake Deutsch CURE Urgent Care

The owners of Cure Urgent Care opened a third location on June 7th. They were backed this time by a deep-pocketed investor -− the Mount Sinai Health System. The hospital has pre-existing ties with Cure Urgent Care and has accredited Cure physicians within the Sinai Network.

The 2, 900 square foot clinic is located on the ground floor of the Monterey, an apartment building at East 96th Street and Third Avenue. The location features eight exam rooms and includes a 400 square foot QuickRx pharmacy, part of a separate 10-location chain founded by Mr. Katz, a pharmacist, in 2007.

Cure is leasing the property for approximately $100 per square foot from real estate investor Rubin Schron, who purchased the building in 2013 for $252 million. Elan Katz, Cure chief executive, explains that the owners of the building, “felt we were an amenity. I would love to have a doctor downstairs.”

When Katz founded the startup chain of urgent-care centers in 2014, he took on two emergency physicians: Drs. Joseph Feldman and Jake Deutsch. The latter of the two is oft to appear on television networks such as CNN and Fox as a medical expert.

From its start in September 2014, Cure opened two locations, one on the Upper West Side and one in Huntington, L.I. Cure was almost ready to launch with its staff, supplies, and equipment all in place. It was missing just one thing −signed contracts with a number of significant insurers. Without them on board, Cure was unable to bill patients enrolled in managed care plans. For four months, Cure hid the truth. Patients under health plans who had not yet agreed to a deal with Cure were told that their insurances were accepted. In Reality, however, Cure was simply absorbing the costs instead of potentially losing customers.

“A patient leaving here when you tell him you don’t take his insurance is most likely gone because he will think twice the next time he comes here, ” Mr. Katz explained. “I felt like the doctors are here anyway getting paid, so don’t even bother telling [the patient] you don’t take his insurance. Just don’t bill him, and he’s going to come back.”

Now a year later with the insurance contracts in place, the Cure sites on the Upper West Side and Huntington, L.I. treat around 50 patients a day. Cure’s clinics are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, with similar hours on weekends.

This feature alone makes Cure a great alternative to the emergency room where patients can’t get an appointment with their primary care doctor. At Upper West Side location, there has been an influx of adults between ages 18 to 40 who pop in on the way to and from work or on weekends. Conversely, Katz expects the mix of patients on the Upper East Side to be older, with more paying through Medicare. Nonetheless, Mount Sinai sees its joint venture with Cure as a way of reaching out to New Yorkers who do not have ties to a physician and only show up for episodic care at a hospital or retail clinic.

According to a February 2015 report by the United Hospital Fund, there were 103 urgent-care centers in New York City, and yet another 55 are in the works. The centers offer a low-cost alternative to a hospital visit. But critics worry that patients are at risk of receiving fragmented medical care that isn’t coordinated by their primary care physician.
Mr. Katz insists his business is not a replacement for primary care, and his centers coordinate with patients’ physicians to share customer records.

“A lot of primary care doctors think we’re competitors, ” he said. “We’re not. Most likely, if we weren’t open for someone who came here, they would end up in the ER.”

Another criticism of urgent-care centers has been their cliquing together in comfortable communities rather than the underserved neighborhoods that need them. Mr. Katz said he is exploring sites in markets including central Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Plans for a central Harlem location are closest to becoming a reality, with a projected opening date of this coming fall or winter on Lenox Avenue near West 125th Street. Katz would also like to expand in TriBeCa and Greenwich Village, though rents are a prohibitive factor in those neighborhoods.

For Mount Sinai, the new location on the Upper East Side “will play an integral role in Mount Sinai’s population health initiatives and crystallizes our ongoing commitment to delivering access to the highest quality of health care to New York’s diverse communities, ” Dr. Arthur Klein, president of the Mount Sinai Health Network, said in a statement.

Dr. Katz declined to disclose Mount Sinai’s financial stake. The hospital system did not respond to a request for comment.

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