New urgent care facility in Venice causes waves

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VENICE, Fla. - If you live in mid or south Sarasota County, you now have some new heath care options. Sarasota Memorial Hospital has opened up a new urgent care facility just a mile from Venice Regional Medical Center.

It's located on the site of an old seafood restaurant on the north side of town at the Venice Bypass/Business 41 split.

There are other privately owned urgent care facilities in the area, but this is the first in Venice by the public hospital many of residents already contribute to.

All Sarasota County taxpayers contribute into the publicly-owned Sarasota Memorial Hospital. However, the convenience of using some of their services is not always equal.

"We really found that within our network, the Venice area was lacking," says Jen Storch, director of ambulatory services at Sarasota Memorial.

The new Venice facility is their fourth urgent care facility in the county; an $8 million investment. "We've gotten great feedback from the patients that have come through there."

Storch says they're already seeing around 75 patients per day, from the physicians to the high tech devices helping to treat ailments. "Anything from colds, coughs, minor injuries, broken bones, lacerations, eye problems…we also do immunizations."

The center is open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week, and they say it's a better option than hitting up an emergency room. "We can usually get patients in and out of our facility in under an hour. If you went to an emergency room you are going to be there a little longer," says Storch.

Perhaps even better news: "Our urgent cares cost typically about a quarter of what an emergency room visit would cost."

Last year, 60 physicians petitioned against the center, claiming the area had enough services. Some of those physicians work for Venice Regional hospital, which raised objections at a city planning meeting. The privately owned hospital is also challenging Sarasota Memorial's plans for medical complex near Laurel Road.

Storch says she doesn't see the urgent care facility as competition. "I think our working relationship is great. I think it's good to give patients a choice of where they want to go for their health care."

Workers there say there is a difference in what they offer, compared to an emergency room. They say if your life is in danger, like with chest pains you should call 911 or get to the nearest emergency room. Non-life threatening cases are the specialty at the urgent care facility.