by Sarah Ellis

Published on The State, January 22, 2020

LEXINGTON, S.C.Lexington Medical Center has opened a new urgent care doctor’s office and imaging center in Lexington, expanding local options for walk-in medical treatment any day of the week.

Patients can visit the new Lexington Medical Center Saluda Pointe urgent care for relatively minor medical issues that could typically be treated by a primary care physician, including sore throats, fevers, strains and sprains, sinus infections and minor wounds. The Saluda Pointe office also offers imaging scans such as 3T MRIs, CT scans, X-rays and ultrasounds.

“Lexington Medical Center Saluda Pointe brings an additional urgent care and imaging center to the town of Lexington that’s closer to the hospital and convenient to the interstate and neighboring communities,” Tod Augsburger, president and CEO of Lexington Medical Center, said in a news release.

Lexington Medical Center also announced in June its plans to open a 225,000-square foot medical facility in Northeast Columbia this year. The hospital system’s physicians wanted outpatient services available closer to their patients, including after-hours urgent care, according to Augsburger.

Creating a network of facilities where patients can go for less serious concerns and procedures helps alleviate pressure on the main Lexington Medical Center emergency room, which saw more than 100,000 patients in 2017, according to Augsburger.

Emergency departments can be pricey for patients — especially uninsured or under-insured people — but they are also expensive for hospitals to operate. Having other options is a good thing, according to Emerson Smith, a health care researcher and consultant. That is part of the reason why the trend of health care has shifted from investments in “big, concrete buildings” with lots of inpatient beds and specialists to a constellation of quick-turnaround ambulatory care providers closer to where patients live.

Urgent care treatment at the Saluda Pointe center is available for patients who are not able to see their regular doctors or who need after-hours medical care. For more severe medical issues, such as a heart attack or life-threatening injuries, patients should be treated at an emergency room.

Appointments are not needed at urgent care centers.

Lexington Medical Center Saluda Pointe opened Wednesday at 154 Saluda Pointe Drive, near the intersection of Highway 378 and Interstate 20, behind the Chick-fil-A restaurant.

It is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.