New urgent care in Hamilton Square Mall receives accreditation

GUILDERLAND — Priority 1 Urgent Care, which opened in Hamilton Square in April, has received accreditation from the Urgent Care Association, making it the first urgent-care organization in the greater Capital District to receive that recognition, according to owner Jonathan Halpert, M.D.

Accreditation involves opening a facility’s doors and books for thorough scrutiny by an independent third party, which examines medical practices, business practices, and quality metrics, Halpert said.

“You subject yourself to a lot of scrutiny … It takes a lot of effort and work just to go through the accreditation process,” he said.

Halpert wanted to earn this accreditation as soon as possible after opening the facility, since he wanted to make that “a cornerstone of my business strategy,” he said, “because I knew if I built it with that model in mind I’d probably build a pretty successful program right out of the gate, instead of having to play catch-up and repair problems that have occurred.”

Halpert said this week that urgent care manages a broad spectrum of healthcare problems, from minor to moderately complex issues related to illness and injuries, and that “the convenience factor is significant.” Many people visit for upper respiratory infections, sore throats, and tick bites, he said. Physicians are always available for procedures such as splinting and suturing, he said, and the facility offers X-rays and laboratory services.

If people could call their primary-care doctors and tell them that they are coming in that day to be seen, he said, there would be much less need for urgent care. “But that’s not usually possible because the doctor has a full appointment schedule … and doesn’t have room to put them in at the time that they want to be seen,” he said, adding that the primary-care system is understaffed.

Many people who visit urgent-care centers will follow up later with their primary-care physicians or regular specialists “to close the loop and make sure the person who you ordinarily see has an opportunity to look you over and make sure everything is going as it should,” Halpert said.

The facility is “sandwiched in between Market 32 and the Dollar Tree,” Halpert said of the office’s location within the mall, which is located near the intersection of routes 20 and 155 in Guilderland.

Halpert has been working in urgent care since 2007, serving as an urgent care medical director first with the Prime Care Physicians Group and then with St. Peter’s Health Partners, which absorbed Prime Care.

Prior to that, he said, he was in the emergency department of St. Peter’s Hospital.

Halpert is a founding member and director of the North East Regional Urgent Care Association, he said, and through that has been involved in urgent-care and health policy planning and administration.

Asked if the North East Regional Urgent Care Association is related to the Urgent Care Association that accredited his facility, he said that it was not previously, but that over the last couple of years it has come to have an affiliation.

Halpert added, “We are very aware of the needs in your catchment area — we follow what’s been going on in the Hilltowns over the last few months relative to healthcare and we have been helping out with that as best we can … We’ve been able to act in some respects as a stopgap and are hoping that the new enterprise that’s projected to open there in fact gets off the ground and on its feet in relatively short order. I think that will help a lot of people.”

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