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Steward Health Care, Doctors Express Announce Affiliation

SPRINGFIELD — Doctors Express has announced support for a growing trend of healthcare system partnerships with urgent-care facilities. Steward Health Care, the largest fully integrated community-care organization and community-hospital network in New England, recently announced a new clinical affiliation with AFC Doctors Express Urgent Care, the largest urgent-care provider in New England. This partnership is the first of its kind in Massachusetts and makes urgent-care centers available to Steward patients and others within the next year. Master franchisors Richard Crews and James Brennan of the local Doctors Express facilities — located in Springfield and West Springfield — commend the efforts to increase the quality and efficiency of patient care. Doctors Express has 11 locations in Massachusetts and plans to open 15 more locations in the next two years. Steward now has the largest integrated network of urgent-care providers in Massachusetts with 24 affiliated locations to be opened within the next year. Through this affiliation with Doctors Express, 45 family-practice, emergency-medicine, and internal-medicine physicians employed by Doctors Express will join the Steward Health Care Network. As part of this clinical affiliation, Doctors Express physicians will now have access to Steward’s patient portal to evaluate a patient’s clinical history prior to commencing treatment. Clinical notes from a Doctors Express visit will be communicated back to a patient’s primary-care physician or specialist for necessary follow-up. Steward patients will remain in-network while visiting a Doctors Express location. Urgent care includes some services offered by primary-care physicians, including treatment for acute illness, trauma (including minor surgical procedures), vaccinations, X-rays, medication dispensing, and more. Many patients might not take advantage of these services through primary-care practices because of inconvenient hours. “Our Doctors Express urgent-care practices are an advocate for better healthcare throughout our Western Mass. community,” said Brennan. “Not only do our physicians treat symptoms, but they also provide preventative care. We have moved urgent care far beyond the boundaries of traditional clinic care, and we look forward to more growth opportunities, from franchise development to partnerships with major healthcare systems.” Added Crews, “emergency rooms continue to be overcrowded with patients seeking non-emergency health-care. Partnerships with major healthcare providers alleviate the burden of crowded emergency rooms, and more importantly, these partnerships increase the quality of care by providing fast and efficient care during non-business hours.”

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