By Gracie Brogowski, contributor
Sentara will open an urgent care center in Harrisonburg next month, adding another option for the community’s non-emergency medical care, which is spread thin especially on weekends.
Sentara spokesperson Alyssa Pacheco said in an email to The Citizen that urgent cares are alternatives to people going to the hospital emergency room for “non-life-threatening” medical issues, especially when doctors’ offices are closed in the evening and on weekends.
The hospital company operates urgent care centers with a company called Velocity Urgent Care and has facilities in other areas, including Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach and Woodbridge. The new urgent care center in Harrisonburg will open at 3841 Stone Spring Rd.
It is scheduled to open in mid-February, Pacheco said. The hope is that it will reduce pressure on Sentara RMH’s emergency room by offering a 12-hour service for weekdays and eight hours for the weekend, she said in the email statement.
Harrisonburg has several urgent care centers, including Emergicare, MedExpress Urgent Care and Valley Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine. In addition, JMU’s University Health Center is available to treat the university’s students.
But only one, Valley Urgent Care, is open both Saturday and Sunday during the day. MedExpress is closed on Saturdays, and Emergicare is closed Sundays.
The limited options on weekends even came up during the JMU’s Board of Visitors’ Academic and Student Life Committee’s meeting Nov. 18, as several members of the university’s governing body discussed challenges for getting treatment and testing, including for COVID-19, outside of the University Health Center’s regular hours.
Many JMU students, for instance, live on-campus and don’t have easy access to transportation to off-campus locations. Not being available on evenings and weekends can affect students’ access to medical assistance.
“It probably would be better if it was open so student’s wouldn’t have to rely on things outside of campus such as … Sentara if they do need help on weekends or when the health center is closed,” JMU junior nursing major Bridget Ross said. “I would rather the health care center be open on weekends, so student’s aren’t limited to when they can get care when they need [it].”
Ross said the University Health Center is helpful when she goes there — it just has limited hours.
“When I go to the health center, they usually print out a sheet that helps explain stuff,” Ross said.
JMU spokesperson, Mary-Hope Vass, said in an email to The Citizen that the limited hours can be good preparation for students, allowing them to practice making doctor’s appointments and “practice self-care.”
Two of the local urgent care centers did not respond to interview requests and one declined to comment.
Local urgent care center hours:
- Emergicare, at 182 Neff Ave. W2, is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.on Saturday.
- MedExpress Urgent Care, at 1840 East Market St., is open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday-Friday. The facility is closed on Saturday.
- Valley Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine, at 119 B University Blvd, is open 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- JMU’s University Health Center’s Urgent Care Hours are 7:45 a.m.-4:45 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Thursdays, it is open 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. The facility is closed for lunch each day from 11:45-12:45. Urgent care service is not offered on the weekends.
— News researcher Elizabeth Price contributed to this article.
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