New urgent care center tends to Northeast's ill

Posted: April 12, 2013

IN THIS ERA of sky-high health-care costs and overbooked doctors, you don't need health insurance and you don't need an appointment at Temple ReadyCare on Roosevelt Boulevard, just south of Byberry Road.

It's next door to Chickie's & Pete's, and it's just as walk-in friendly, which explains why more than 2,100 Northeast Philadelphia patients have walked into the nonemergency urgent-care facility since its New Year's Day opening.

"We opened up just as flu season hit," said Dr. Steve Matta, who came from the Temple ReadyCare in Port Richmond to man the Northeast office. "We were really busy right away."

The Temple University Health System neighborhood outpost offers urgent medical care for unexpected, nonemergency illnesses and injuries from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

"It's the weekend, and a patient says, 'I dropped a bowling ball on my foot, and I think I might have broken something,' " said Eric R. Mankin, a family doctor in Bustleton who is chief executive of Temple Physicians.

"Or, 'I was slicing open a bagel, and I cut my finger.' We don't have to say, 'Tough it out until I'm back in the office on Monday or go to the emergency room.' We can treat them here seven days a week. I think we've built a better mousetrap."

Matta said, "You caught something quick or something just happened to you. You call your primary-care physician, but nowadays they are overwhelmed with volume so they say, 'Sorry. Can't see you today.' So people end up going to an emergency room because what else are you going to do? Now, you can walk in here and be seen quickly."

Matta said he deals with coughs, colds, upper-respiratory infections and stomach viruses, as well as sprains, strains and fractures.

"We see a lot of ankle, elbow and wrist injuries," he said. "We see fractures that need follow-up. One of the neat things about being part of the Temple system is that we have orthopedics right down the hall here. We splint patients and send them to orthopedics in the same building."

Matta said he sees a lot of young children with coughs, colds, sore throats, rashes and ear infections. "When kids come in with bronchitis and pneumonia, we diagnose and X-ray them on the spot," he said, "which gives the parents peace of mind."

Elaine Lowry of Mayfair, who manages the practice, said, "We are multicultural for sure, just like Northeast Philadelphia. And we're reasonable. If you need 10 stitches, we just charge for the sutures, not for the wound check or for suture removal. If you're unemployed or uninsured, that makes a big difference."

On Twitter: @DanGeringer

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