Medical malls for your health?

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BLOOMFIELD, N.J. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Instead of buying jeans, having lunch and getting a haircut in one stop, think mammogram, blood pressure check and pharmaceuticals. Like America’s shopping malls, so-called “medical malls” provide an array of medical services under one roof.

Now you see them, now you don’t. Some hospitals in America’s urban areas have flat lined financially. In New Jersey alone, 26 hospitals have closed over the past two decades.

Across the country, developers are pumping new life into old buildings by turning them into medical malls.

E. Stephen Kirby, Managing Partner of Community Healthcare Associates, LLC told Ivanhoe, “There’s a pharmacist in the building, there’s an imaging center in the building, and we have physical therapy.”

For some patients, you can’t beat convenience. Maryam Mere was recently in a car wreck and needed a check-up near her home.

Mere told Ivanhoe, “Especially after the accident you don’t want to drive.”

Sharad Sahu, M.D., Director of Physician Affairs at Hackensack University medical Center in Hackensack New Jersey told Ivanhoe, “A hospital has to have an emergency room so patients cannot be turned away, while the medical malls have got Urgent Care Centers and you know are basically payer-based.”

Critics worry medical malls will take business away from existing hospitals and create more systems in trouble. However residents in urban areas say access to quality care and fewer empty, blighted buildings may be just the shot in the arm they need.

While medical malls have been around for more than a decade, researchers say the concept has really taken off over the past five years. Some say, it’s in part due to new insurance reimbursement models from the Affordable Care Act.

BACKGROUND: Today many hospitals and shopping centers have shut down. Many poor and urban neighborhoods are left with the remains of empty stores and malls. Developers are now purchasing these empty structures and reopening them as medicals malls. These are private medical complexes that offer many different options and services all in one place, just like hospitals often do. Many cities have been struggling because of the economy, but these medical malls are filling these abandoned structures, restoring health care services, and generating jobs. They also make a tax boost available when a for-profit company replaces a nonprofit establishment.

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REPLACING HOSPITALS: Many people worry that these institutions will not be proper replacements for hospitals. They potentially could take away a lot of business from the hospitals that still remain in these cities. Unlike hospitals, these medical malls don’t require any charity care or have nonprofit missions which often help the community’s health needs. However these places allow people to get many different types of care all in one place, which is convenient especially for those who are hurt, sick, or don’t have easy access to transportation. Also by having everything in one place, it means not having to worry about how much time you have to get from each place, which often times could be miles away, and the process can be much quicker, and results can be received faster. The main perk of these malls is the convenience for the patient. The benefit of medical malls for physicians is that usually these malls only have one physician and their practice per specialty, which is a huge plus for them.

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