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Presence Health, the Chicago-area hospital network, announced earlier this month that it will partner with the urgent care center company, Physicians Immediate Care (PIC), to jointly operate 10 walk in health clinics. According to the Chicago Tribune, Presence already has four urgent care clinics that will be included in the venture and three occupational medical clinics that could be used for future locations. Physicians Immediate Care is contributing six current locations with another currently under construction. Howard Drenth, president and CEO of Presence Medical Group, is excited for the opportunities this new venture will provide.

“We are pleased that this partnership will enable us to continue to improve access to care and serve the needs of those for whom cost and convenience are a significant consideration,” Drenth said in a statement.

Urgent care centers have become extremely popular over the last couple years, to the point that there are currently over 9,000 in the United States, according to the Urgent Care Association of America. The average urgent care unit sees 342 patients a week.

The urgent care centers that will be jointly operated under this deal will all be staffed and managed daily by physicians, like most such centers are. In fact, 95% of them have at least one physician on staff.

While solid data is hard to determine for a variety of reasons, urgent care costs are generally recognized as cheaper than traditional hospital emergency room and even doctors office visits. Their availability and convenience are also two of the main reasons they’ve become increasingly prevalent over the years.

Presence Health and PIC plan to increase the number of urgent care centers going forward in an ongoing effort to provide patients with a shorter wait, cost-effective alternative to hospitals. The more ‘lesser’ emergencies that can be treated at facilities like this, the more space and time there will be in hospitals for life-threatening ones.