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Centro Medico Escondido will begin offering urgent care services on March 14. The clinic, owned by Borrego Health, chose to expand its services after Palomar Health announced the closure of its downtown standby emergency room. Photo courtesy of Borrego Health
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Borrego Health brings urgent care services to Escondido

ESCONDIDO — Escondido residents will soon have access to urgent care services in downtown.

Borrego Community Health Foundation recently announced that it will offer urgent care services at its downtown Escondido site, Centro Medico Escondido, beginning March 14. The nonprofit health care provider made the decision to expand its services after Palomar Health announced it will close its downtown standby emergency room that same day.

Gary Rotto, senior vice president of government and community affairs for Borrego Health, said the nonprofit has explored the idea of offering urgent care services at its Escondido location for some time.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for awhile and with the closure of (Palomar Health’s) downtown campus it makes perfect sense,” Rotto said.

To offer urgent care services, Centro Medico Escondido will be open for an additional 32 hours a week. The clinic will also add nine positions, including one physician, to their current staff of 37. Currently, the facility sees about 500 patients per week for services such as family care, pediatric medicine, women’s health, behavioral health, and podiatry. Officials expect to see a patient increase of 25 percent.

The change also makes sense, said both health care providers, as 60 to 70 percent of medical situations at Palomar Health’s downtown emergency room could’ve been served at an urgent care clinic.

Palomar Health said in the last three years the majority of patients have been “lower level acuity patients who are not crucially ill or injured.” The hospital began the transition plan to close the downtown standby emergency room, which sees up to 90 patients per day, in June 2015. The hospital plans to continue to provide birth center, acute rehabilitation, and behavioral health services at the downtown location until further notice.

“This transition is a positive milestone as we make progress towards the final closure of the Downtown Campus,” said Frank Beirne, executive vice president of operations at Palomar Health, in a news release. “The community should rest assured that we have done extensive due diligence and research to be sure we understand the needs of our patients so that we can provide access to the care they need at other facilities in the area.”

The change will also allow Centro Medico Escondido to help patients set up regular care, Rotto said.

“Many people don’t have a primary care physician,” Rotto said. “The ER is their primary care. We want them to find a regular medical home. We provide a variety of services that can help keep them well… keep them vital.”

Centro Medico Escondido accepts Medi-Cal and a number of private insurances. The facility, which is located at 1121 East Washington Avenue, also accepts walk-in visits.

Starting March 14, the facility will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Borrego Community Health Foundation, which was opened in 1990, currently has 20 sites and five mobile sites in San Diego and Riverside counties. It plans to expand further in Southern California.